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Moldova

MOLDOVA

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS MOLDOVANS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Republic of Moldova

Republica Moldoveneasca

CAPITAL: Chişinău

FLAG: Equal vertical bands of blue, yellow, and red; emblem in center of yellow stripe is Roman eagle with shield on its breast.

ANTHEM: n/a

MONETARY UNIT: The leu is a paper currency, replacing the Russian ruble. 1mld = $0.07962 (or $1 = mld12.56) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is in force.

HOLIDAYS: Independence Day, 27 August.

TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

Moldova is a landlocked nation located in eastern Europe, between Ukraine and Romania. Comparatively, it is slightly larger than the state of Maryland with a total area of 33,843 sq km (13,067 sq mi). Moldova shares boundaries with Ukraine on the n, e, and s; and Romania on the w. Moldova's border length totals 1,389 km (864 mi).

Its capital city, Chişinău, is located in the south central part of the country.

TOPOGRAPHY

Moldova consists mostly of a hilly plain that is cut by deep valleys with many rivers and streams. The terrain slopes gradually southward. The Codri Hills run through the center of the country and contain the nation's highest point of Mount Balanesti, at 430 meters (1,410 feet). The lowest point is along the Dniester River, with an elevation of 2 meters (6.6 feet).

The Dniester, along the eastern border, is the longest river with a total length of 1,400 kilometers (870 miles). The second longest river, the Prut, is a major tributary of the Danube. There are no major lakes, but saline marshes are found along the lower reaches of the Prut and in river valleys of southern Moldova.

CLIMATE

The climate is of the humid continental type. The country is exposed to northerly cold winds in the winter and moderate westerly winds in the summer. The average temperature in July is 20°c (68°f). The average temperature in January is -4°c (24°f). Rainfall averages 58 cm (22.8 in) a year.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Three-fourths of the country's terrain features chernozem (black soil), which supports the natural vegetation of steppe-like grasslands. The central hill country is densely forested. Common trees include oak, maple, linden, hornbeam, and beech. Badgers, pole-cats, ermines, wild boar, foxes, and hares are common animals. Larks, blackbirds, and jays are common birds. Carp, bream, trout, and pike populate the lakes and streams. As of 2002, there were at least 68 species of mammals, 175 species of birds, and over 1,700 species of plants throughout the country.

ENVIRONMENT

The natural environment in Moldova suffers from the heavy use of agricultural chemicals (including banned pesticides such as DDT), which have contaminated soil and groundwater. Poor farming methods have caused widespread soil erosion. In 2000, total carbon dioxide emissions was at 6.6 million metric tons. As of 2003, 1.4% of Moldova's total land area is protected. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included four types of mammals, eight species of birds, one type of reptile, nine species of fish, and five species of invertebrates. Threatened species include the European bison, European souslik, and the great bustard.

POPULATION

The population of Moldova in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 4,206,000, which placed it at number 121 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 10% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 20% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 92 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be -0.2%; the rate fell below zero in the mid-1990s. The government is concerned about the low fertility rate and high emigration rate, both of which contribute to the population decline. The projected population for the year 2025 was 3,967,000. The population density was 125 per sq km (323 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 45% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.47%. The capital city, Chişinău, had a population of 662,000 in that year. Tiraspol had an estimated 209,800 people; Bălţi (Beltsy), 207,738; and Tighina, 144,900.

MIGRATION

There was a net emigration of 6,000 in 197988 to other Soviet republics. This grew to 16,300 in 1989 and 29,800 in 1990. Since independence in 1991, Moldova has experienced difficulties. A short but violent civil war in 1992the Trans-Dniestrian conflictresulted in the internal displacement of some 51,000 people and the external displacement of some 56,000 refugees, who fled to the Ukraine. There is no central authority in Moldova that registers and determines claims for refugee status. In 2004, there were 57 refugees and 184 asylum seekers. In 2004, some 5,641 Moldovans were refugees in Germany and 4,799 in the United States. Between 2000 and 2004, 900 Moldovans sought asylum in European and non-European countries. However, in 2004 over 6,700 Moldovans sought asylum in European countries, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. In 2005, the net migration rate was an estimated -0.25 migrants per 1,000 population, a significant change from -5.8 per 1,000 in 1990. The government views the immigration level as satisfactory, but the emigration level as too high.

ETHNIC GROUPS

The most recent estimates indicate that the population is 64.5% Moldovan/Romanian; 13.8% Ukrainian; 13% Russian; 2% Bulgarian; 1.5% Jewish; and 5.2% Gagauz or other. The Gagauz are a Christian Turkic minority that live primarily in the south. The government estimates the number of Roma to be about 11,600; however, nongovernmental organizations have placed the estimated Romani population at anywhere between 20,000 and 200,000.

LANGUAGES

Moldovan, the official language, is considered a dialect of Romanian rather than a separate language. It is derived from Latin but, unlike the other Romance languages, preserved the neuter gender and a system of three cases. There are a large number of Slavonicderived words. Under Soviet rule the language was written in the Cyrillic alphabet, but Latin script was restored in 1989. This switch has caused problems, particularly in the separatist Transnistrian region where local authorities have closed schools that were teaching the Latin script.

Russian and Gagauz, a Turkish dialect, are also spoken within the country. Government officials are expected to know both Moldovan and Russian.

RELIGIONS

Over 90% of the population belong to one of two Orthodox denominations: the Moldovan Orthodox or the Bessarabian Church. About 3.6% of the population belong to the Old Rite Russian Orthodox Church (Old Believers). Other Christian denominations include Roman Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Mormons. The Jewish community has about 31,300 members. There are also communities of Muslims and Baha'is. Though there is no state religion, the Moldovan Orthodox Church has a privileged status with the state and the government imposes some restrictions on religious groups that are not officially registered. For instance, unregistered groups are not permitted to build churches.

TRANSPORTATION

In 2004, Moldova's railroad system consisted of 1,138 km (707 mi) of standard and broad gauge railways, not including industrial lines. Of that total, broad gauge accounted for nearly all of it at 1,124 km (698 mi). As of 2003, Moldova's highway system consisted of 12,730 km (7,910 mi) of roadway, of which 10,973 km (6,818 mi) were paved. As of 2004, Moldova had 424 km (263 mi) of inland waterways. As of 2005, Moldova's merchant fleet consisted of two cargo vessels of 1,000 GRT or more. Access to the sea is through Ukraine or Romania. There were an estimated 23 airports in 2004, six with paved runways, as of 2005. Air transport is provided by Air Moldova International and Moldavian Airlines, both private carriers, and a state company, Air Moldova. In 2003, about 179,000 passengers were carried on domestic and international airline flights.

HISTORY

The region that is now Moldova (also called Bessarabia) has historically been inhabited by a largely Romanian-speaking population. The region was part of the larger Romanian principality of Moldova in the 18th century, which in turn was under Ottoman suzerainty. In 1812, the region was ceded to the Russian Empire, which ruled until March 1918 when it became part of Romania. Moscow laid the basis for reclaiming Moldova by establishing a small Moldovian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic on Ukrainian territory in 1924.

The 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact assigned Moldova to the Soviet sphere of influence. Soviet forces seized Moldova in June 1940. After the Nazi invasion of the USSR, Germany helped Romania to regain Moldova. Romania held it from 1941 until Soviet forces reconquered it in 1944.

Moldova declared its independence from the USSR on 27 August 1991. In December, Mircea Snegur was elected the first president of the new nation. Moldova's new constitution was adopted on 28 July 1994, replacing the old Soviet constitution of 1979. The Agrarian Democratic Party, composed largely of former Communist officials, won a majority of seats in the new parliament elected the same year.

Although independent, Moldova has remained one of the poorest countries in Europe and has confronted internal problems with two breakaway regions, the predominantly Turkish Gagauz region in the southern part of the country, and the largely Russian Transdniestria region east of the Dniester River. Russian forces have remained in the latter region and have supported its Russian population in proclaiming an independent "Transdniestria Republic," with which the Moldovan government was still trying to reach a political settlement as of 2003.

Petru Lucinschi (Independent), former speaker of the parliament, defeated Snegur in a December 1996 presidential runoff election (54% to 46%) and became Moldova's new president early in 1997. The following year, Moldova's Communist Party won a parliamentary majority in legislative elections. By 1999 Lucinschi was seeking to strengthen the nation's presidency in order to overcome an extended stalemate between the executive branch and parliament that was preventing the government from effectively addressing the nation's pressing economic problems. In a referendum, voters approved constitutional changes proposed by Lucinschi, but they were rejected by the parliament.

In July 2000, parliament cancelled the direct election of the president, and he or she is now elected by parliament for a four-year term. Parliament failed to chose a new president by December 2000, and early parliamentary elections were held in February 2001. Communists took 71 of 101 seats, and in April, Vladimir Voronin, head of the Communist Party, became president. Voronin campaigned on a platform of protecting human rights, continuing the process of democratization, and ensuring that citizens had adequate food, employment, and medical care.

In February 2003, Voronin, a native of Transdniester, proposed a new initiative to settle the dispute with Transdniester. He called for a new constitution that would turn Moldova into a loose confederation of two states, and grant the Russian language official status. Both Moldova and Transdniester would have their own governing and legislative bodies, and budgets. Defense, customs, and monetary systems would be common for the federation. However, when in January 2002 plans had been announced to make Russian an official language and compulsory in school, mass protests were held, and ended only when the plans were revoked. As of February 2003, Russia maintained 2,500 troops in Transdniester, although in 1999 it agreed to withdraw all of its troops by 2001. The situation in Transdniester is complicated by fears among the Slavic population of Moldova's unification with Romania. On the other hand, at the beginning of 2003, consultations were taking place on the possible entry of Moldova into a union with Russia and Belarus.

The Communist Party stayed on track with market reforms and the European integration process. Although it is considered to be one of the poorest countries in Europe, and despite an economic base that is fairly fragile, between 2001 and 2004 Moldova registered GDP growth rates of over 6%. Also, the national currencythe Moldovan leuwas been very stable over this time period.

In the March 2005 elections the Communist Party managed to hold on to power by garnering 46.1% of the votes; the Democratic Moldova Bloc got 28.4%, the Christian Democratic Popular party (PPCD) got 9.1%, and other parties got 16.4%. The popularity of the Communist Party was not as big as it was in 2001they only won 56 parliamentary seats out of the 101 availablebut they still managed to vote President Voronin in for a second term.

Moldova's middle-term goal of joining the European Union, and its short term goal of having its citizens travel freely within the Schengen space, were hampered by the raging conflict in the Transdniester region. The European Union stated that Moldova had no immediate prospects for integration.

GOVERNMENT

Elections to Moldova's first postindependence parliament were held on 27 February 1994. The parliament consists of a single chamber of 101 seats, and members are elected for four-year terms on the basis of proportional representation. In order to enter the parliament, parties must garner at least 6% of the votes; blocks of two parties need 9%, blocks of three or more parties need 12%, while independent candidates have to poll at least 3%. The votes obtained by the parties that did not pass these thresholds are redistributed in favor of the parties that did, according to their overall representation in the Parliament.

Prior to 2000, the president was directly elected. As of July 2000, however, the president is elected by parliament for a four-year term and may serve no more than two consecutive terms. The president nominates the prime minister upon consultation with parliament. The cabinet is selected by the prime minister, subject to approval by parliament.

The July 1994 constitution and the law provide for freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion; however, the law requires that religious groups register with the government. Peaceful assembly is allowed; however, permits for demonstrations must be approved and political parties and private organizations are required to register with the government.

Reforms approved in 1995 authorized the creation of a court to deal with constitutional issues and a system of appeals courts.

POLITICAL PARTIES

Although 26 parties or coalitions of parties participated in the February 1994 elections, only four received more than the 4% of the national vote (then) required to gain seats.

The Agrarian Party had been the largest political group in the parliament with a plurality of 46 seats, following the departure of 10 deputies in 1995. They left to join a new party, the Party of Renewal and Conciliation, headed by then-president Mircea Snegur. The Socialist-Edenstro bloc had 26 seats, while the pro-Romanian parties, the Popular Front and the Peasants and Intellectuals bloc, had 11 and 9 seats, respectively.

Although the Party of Moldovan Communists won the single largest number of parliamentary seats (40) in the elections held on 22 March 1998, they had insufficient support to form a governing coalition and thus remained an opposition party, while the governing coalition consisted of the Democratic Convention of Moldova (26 seats), the Bloc for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova (24), and the Party of Democratic Forces (11).

Twelve political parties or blocs participated in the parliamentary elections held on 25 February 2001. Three of them gained seats in parliament: the Communist Party, 71; the centrist Braghis Alliance (led by Dumitru Braghis) of the Social-Democratic Alliance of Moldova, 19; and the conservative Christian Democratic Popular Party, 11.

In 2005, 9 parties, 2 alliances, and 12 independent candidates entered the electoral race. The Communist Party (PCRM) won 56 of 101 parliamentary seats, the centrist and pro-Russian Democratic Moldova Block (BMD)led by Dumitru Braghis and Chişinău mayor Serafim Urecheanwon 34, while the rightist and pro-Romanian Christian Democratic Popular Party (PPCD) won 11. Despite their fragile majority, the communists managed to vote former president Vladimir Voronin in for a second termhe received 75 of the 101 parliamentary votes. Vasile Tarlev was the designated prime minister.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Following administrative reforms, Moldova's 40 districts, or raions, have been reorganized into nine counties, one municipality (Chişinău), and two territorial units (Transdniestria and Gagauzia).

The Russian minority on the east bank of the Dniester River have proclaimed their independence as the "Transdniestria Republic," but it has not been recognized by the Moldovan government, which is, however, willing to allow this region a degree of autonomy. The predominantly Turkish Gagauz region has also been granted autonomy.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

There are courts of first instance, an appellate court, a Supreme Court, and a Constitutional Court. The Supreme Court is divided into civil and criminal sections.

The Constitutional Court was created in 1995. A 1995 judicial reform law provided for a system of appeals courts.

There are district courts of the first instance and five regional tribunals. The Higher Appeals Court and the Supreme Court are both in Chişinău. However, as of 2003, there was a backlog of cases at the tribunal and the Higher Appeals Court levels, due to lack of funding.

The Superior Court of Magistrates nominates and the president appoints judges for an initial period of five years. The judges may be reappointed for a subsequent 10 years, and finally, on their third term, they serve until retirement age. The judiciary is more independent now than when it was subject to the Soviet regime. The Constitutional Court made several rulings in 1996 that demonstrated its independence. For example, in April 1996 the Constitutional Court found that the attempted dismissal of Defense Minister Creanga by President Snegur was unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court also overturned a Central Electoral Commission decision to exclude a presidential candidate from competing in the November 1996 election. And in 2000, the Court ruled that legislation requiring political parties to be registered for two years prior to participating in elections was unconstitutional.

Criminal defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and are afforded a number of due process rights, including a public trial and a right of appeal. In practice, a number of convictions have been overturned on appeal.

In 2004 Moldova was deemed one of the most corrupt nations in the world. While the constitution states that the judiciary is independent, there have been several reports of political interference in the judicial process, and corruption among underpaid judges was believed to be pervasive.

ARMED FORCES

In 2005 the active armed forces numbered 6,750 personnel, backed by 66,000 reservists. The Army had 5,710 personnel, with 44 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 266 armored personnel carriers, and 227 artillery pieces. The Air Force had 1,040 active members, with five transport aircraft and eight support helicopters. There is also a paramilitary force that consisted of 2,379 internal troops and 900 riot police, all of which are under the Ministry of Interior. The defense budget for 2005 totaled $9.2 million. Moldova has peacekeeping forces in Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire, and Liberia. Russia has an estimated 1,400 troops stationed in Moldova.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Moldova was admitted to the United Nations on 2 March 1992, and is a member of the ECE and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the IAEA, ICAO, ILO, IMF, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, WHO, and the World Bank. Moldova joined NATO's Partnership for Peace on 16 March 1994. It is also a member of the Council of Europe, the WTO, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Zone, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the OSCE, and the NATO Partnership for Peace. In 2001, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova formed a social and economic development union known as GUAAM. Uzbekistan withdrew from the partnership in 2005.

In environmental cooperation, Moldova is part of the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Air Pollution, CITES, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, and the UN Conventions on Climate Change and Desertification.

ECONOMY

At 51% of GDP in 2000, services comprise the most important sector of Moldova's economy, while agriculture accounted for 28%. The country's wide range of crops provides significant export revenue and employment.

Moldova has no major mineral deposits and must import all of its supplies of coal, oil, and natural gas. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, energy shortages have contributed to sharp production declines. Moldova is seeking alternative energy sources and working to develop its own energy supplies including solar power, wind, and geothermal. The country is implementing a national energy conservation program.

In 1998, the Moldovan economy experienced an 8.6% decline due primarily to fallout from the financial crisis in Russia, by far its biggest export market. Continuing financial turmoil in Ukraine and Romania hurt Moldova's exports, which were needed to pay for imports of fuel from these countries. About one-fourth of Moldova's external debt burden, which peaked at 75% of GDP in 2000, is traceable to energy imports from Russia, which has on occasion suspended gas supplies, and from the Ukraine and Romania, both of which have on occasion suspended electricity power to Moldova. Further isolation occurred in 1999 when the IMF halted loans following the refusal of the Moldovan parliament to carry out privatization plans. By year's end, the Moldovan economy had contracted to roughly one-third of its 1989 level, with end of period inflation soaring to 45.8%. In 2000, the contraction was halted with real GDP growth of 2.2%, and in December, the government entered into a three-year arrangement with the IMF under its Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). Although average inflation for 2000 was 31.3%, by the end of the year the rate had moderated to 18.5%. In 2001 and 2002, inflation has been reduced to single digits: 6.4% and 8%, respectively. Real growth was 6.1% in 2001 and peaked at 4.8% in 2002. The external debt burden had eased somewhat to 58% of GDP.

The economy continued to expand in the following years, registering GDP growth rates of 6.3% in 2003, and 7.3% in 2004; the estimates for 2005 place the growth at 6.0%. This increase was encouraged mainly by remittances send by Moldovans working abroad, and by a strong economic performance in Moldova's neighboring countries. However, the prolonged and deep economic recession that preceded this economic expansion put Moldova in a lagging position in comparison with all its neighbors.

Today, Moldova still is one of Europe's poorest economies. The GDP per capita was only $717 in 2004, and the country's production capacity was reduced due to the exodus of working-age Moldovans. The inflation rate was on the rise in 2004, reaching 12.4%, after falling to 5.2% in 2002. The fact that most of its industry is located in secessionist Transnistria and its dependence on trade with neighboring countries makes Moldova extremely vulnerable.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Moldova's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $9.4 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $2,100. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 6%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 12%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 20.5% of GDP, industry 23.9%, and services 55.6%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $465 million or about $110 per capita and accounted for approximately 23.5% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $117 million or about $28 per capita and accounted for approximately 5.1% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Moldova totaled $1.86 billion or about $438 per capita based on a GDP of $2.0 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 8.7%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 31% of household consumption was spent on food, 11% on fuel, 3% on health care, and 15% on education. It was estimated that in 2001 about 80% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.

LABOR

Moldova's civilian workforce in 2005 totaled 1.34 million. As of 2003, industry accounted for 16% of the labor force, while 43% were in agriculture, and nearly 41% were in the service sector. The unemployment rate in 2002 was estimated at 8%. Approximately 25% of working age Moldovans are employed outside the country.

The law provides workers with the right of association, including the right to form and join labor unions. The General Federation of Trade Unions of Moldova (GFTU) is the successor to the previously existing Soviet trade union system. Various industrial unions still maintain voluntary membership in the GFTU, and there have been no attempts to form alternate trade union structures. Government workers do not have the right to strike, nor do those in essential services such as health care and energy. Unions in the private sector may strike if two-thirds of their membership assents. Collective bargaining is used to negotiate workers' pay and benefits.

The unrestricted minimum working age is 18, with restrictions as to the number of hours that may be worked for those between 16 and 18 years of age. Children generally do not work except in agriculture on family farms. The labor code stipulates a standard workweek of 40 hours, with at least one day off weekly. In 2002, the monthly minimum wage was $9.00 in the public sector and $12.75 in private firms. The median salary was estimated to be $39 per month.

AGRICULTURE

Cropland covers about 65% of the Moldovan land area. Agricultural activities engaged 23% of the labor force in 2000. Agriculture is the most important sector of the Moldovan economy, accounting for 28% of GDP and 60% of exports in 2004. Agricultural output had an average annual decline of 13.7% during 19902000. Crop production during 200204 was up 7.2% from 19992001. In 2000, state-controlled farms accounted for only 1.2% of gross agricultural production, down from 10.2% in 1995. About 14% of all cropland is under irrigation.

Moldovan crops and their 2004 production amounts (in tons) include: sugar beets, 907,000; wheat, 690,000; grapes, 600,000; corn, 1,840,000; sunflowers, 331,000; barley, 260,000; potatoes, 318,000; and soybeans, 35,000.

Wine and tobacco products are important agricultural exports. Wine exports in 2003 were estimated at 20 million liters, accounting for about 3% of world market share. Tobacco production was 10,200 tons in 2004. All tobacco is grown on state farms; the monopoly and lack of buyers has limited privately grown tobacco. Wine and tobacco exports in 2004 were valued at $215.8 million and $8.9 million, respectively, and together accounted for about 23% of exports.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

About 13% of the total land area consists of pastureland. In 2005, the livestock population included 400,000 head of cattle, 500,000 pigs, 830,000 sheep, 115,000 goats, and 14,000,000 chickens. Pork production amounted to 38,500 tons in 2005, when 23,500 tons of beef were produced. In 2005, 630,000 tons of cow's milk and 43,000 tons of eggs were also produced.

FISHING

With no direct connection to the Black Sea, fishing is limited to the Dnister River. The total catch in 2003 was 2,981 tons, with carp accounting for 93% of the landings. Commercial fishing is not a significant part of the national economy.

FORESTRY

Forested areas accounted for about 9.9% of the total land area in 2000. Production is largely domestically consumed; wood and paper product imports in 2004 amounted to $29.2 million.

MINING

Moldova did not possess significant mineral resources. More than 100 deposits of gypsum, limestone, sand, and stone were exploited. Production totals for 2002 were: gypsum, 32,000 metric tons (estimated); sand and gravel, 300,000 metric tons; lime, 3,500 metric tons; and cement, 300,000 metric tons. Moldova also produced crude steel, peat, oil, and natural gas.

ENERGY AND POWER

Moldova, as of 1 January 2005, had no proven reserves of oil or natural gas, and as of 2002, no estimated recoverable reserves of coal. As a result, Moldova must rely upon imports of refined oil products and natural gas from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus to meet its fossil fuel needs.

In 2004 consumption and imports of refined oil each came to an estimated 33,000 barrels per day. In 2002, natural gas consumption and imports each came to an estimated 78 billion cu ft. In 2002, Moldova imported and consumed 200,000 short tons of coal.

Electric power generating capacity has declined since Moldova gained its independence in 1992 due to lack of funds, civil disturbances, and a general economic downturn in the 1990s. Total installed generating capacity in 2002 was estimated at one million kW. Total electricity generation and consumption in 2002 was estimated at 3.9 billion kWh and 4.6 billion kWh, respectively. Conventional thermal fuel sources provided around 78% to 90% of the electric generated, with hydropower providing the remainder.

INDUSTRY

Moldova's industry, including processed food, is composed of approximately 600 major and mid-sized enterprises and associations. It accounts for 23% of Moldova's GDP.

In 1998 the most prominent industries were: food processing (57%), electric energy (18%), engineering and metal processing (5%); production of construction materials (4%), light industry (5.4%), and forestry, wood processing, pulp and paper (3%). Other industrial products include agricultural machinery, foundry equipment, shoes, hosiery, textiles, washing machines, and refrigerators and freezers.

In the wake of the economic downturn in 1998, Moldova's industrial production declined 11% from the previous year. Growth in industrial output was a component of improved economic performance in 2001, as industrial output registered a 3.1% growth rate that year. This growth expanded to 17% in 2004, but industrial representation in GDP and labor force remained low in 2004, at 24.8% and 14% respectively; agriculture made up 22.4% of the economy, and occupied 40% of the labor force; services came in first with a 52.8% contribution to the GDP, and 46% representation in the labor force. Most of the country's industry is situated in conflict riddled and politically instable Transnistria, which makes any current industrial strategy superfluous.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The Moldovan Academy of Sciences, founded in 1961, has sections of physico-mathematical sciences, biological and chemical sciences, technical sciences, agricultural sciences, and medical sciences, and 14 research institutes concerned with the natural sciences. Four scientific institutes conduct medical and agricultural research. Moldovan State University, founded in 1945, has faculties of physics, mathematics and cybernetics, chemistry, biology, and soil science. The Technical University of Moldova, founded in 1964, and the Chişinău Medical Institute and State Agricultural University of Moldova, founded in 1932, are located in Chişinău. M.V. Frunze Agricultural Institute is another educational institution in the sciences. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 52% of university enrollment. In 2002, there were 171 researchers and 201 technicians per million people that were engaged in research and development (R&D). In that same year, high technology exports totaled $8 million, or 4% of manufactured exports. In 1997 (the latest year for which data was available), Moldova spent $47.191 million, or 0.81% of GDP on R&D. Of that amount, 51.4% came from the business sector, followed by 47.8% from government sources. Higher education and foreign sources accounted for 0.2% and 0.6%, respectively.

DOMESTIC TRADE

Chişinău is the main commercial center, with a well-developed system for product distribution. Both national and foreign firms have a strong presence within the retail sector. Since two-thirds of Moldova is rural, local farm markets play an important role in the domestic economy. A great deal of progress had been made in liberalizing and privatizing the economy. With US assistance, nearly all of the nation's farmlands were under private ownership as of 2000. As of January 2003, nearly 2,000 small, medium, and largesized enterprises had also been transferred to private ownership.

In purchasing power parity terms, per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was $1,900 in 2004, with more than 80% of the population under the poverty line. Most of the household consumption is fueled by remittances sent home by Moldovans working abroad.

FOREIGN TRADE

Traditionally, Moldova has maintained a trade surplus with the other Soviet republics and a trade deficit with the rest of the world. However, as of 2005, Moldova's only significant trade surplus is with Russia. Total imports almost double total exports.

A trade agreement between the United States and Moldova providing reciprocal most-favored-nation tariff treatment became effective in 1992. The same year, an overseas Private Investment Corporation agreement, encouraging US private investment by providing direct loans and loan guarantees, was signed. In 1993 a bilateral investment treaty was signed between the United States and Moldova; a general system of preferences status was granted in 1995 as well as the availability of EX-IM bank coverage. Wine tops the list of Moldova's export commodities (24%), followed by apparel (16%). Other exports include tobacco (6.5%), glassware (5.7%), and meat (5.4%). The European Union was Moldova's main trade partner in 2003. Russia and the Ukraine came in second, with a representation of 22.4% and 16.7% in its overall trade respectively.

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 790.3 1,398.6 -608.3
Russia 308.5 182.3 126.2
Romania 90.2 96.9 -6.7
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 82.4 116.6 -34.2
Ukraine 56.2 308.8 -252.6
Germany 56.2 135.3 -79.1
Belarus 41.1 50.6 -9.5
United States 33.6 34.5 -0.9
Austria 11.3 14.6 -3.3
France-Monaco 9.3 35.1 -25.8
Kazakhstan 9.2 48.1 -38.9
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account -142.3
    Balance on goods -622.3
      Imports -1,428.6
      Exports 806.3
    Balance on services -39.5
    Balance on income 215.0
    Current transfers 304.5
Capital Account -12.8
Financial Account 22.6
    Direct investment abroad -0.1
    Direct investment in Moldova 58.5
    Portfolio investment assets 2.0
    Portfolio investment liabilities -23.9
    Financial derivatives
    Other investment assets -49.7
    Other investment liabilities 35.8
Net Errors and Omissions 89.5
Reserves and Related Items 43.0
() data not available or not significant.

In 2004, exports totaled $1.03 billion (FOBFree on Board), while imports where almost double that at $1.83 billion (FOB). Russia remains Moldova's main export market, receiving 35.8% of total exports; it is followed by Italy (13.9%), Romania (10%), Germany (7.3%), Ukraine (6.6%), Belarus (6%), and the United States (4.6%). Imports came mainly from the Ukraine (24.6%), Russia (12.2%), Romania (9.3%), Germany (8.5%), and Italy (7.4%). Main import categories were fuel and energy, capital goods, and foods.

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

External debt stood at $1.3 billion in 2002. That year, $168.7 million in debt service payments were due, accounting for over 60% of all budget revenues. The government took the dramatic step of handing 50% of ownership of its gas lines to Russia's Gazprom, one of its largest creditors. In 2000, the IMF had approved a three-year $142 million loan to reduce poverty and promote growth.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2002 the purchasing power parity of Moldova's exports was $590 million while imports totaled $980 million, resulting in a trade deficit of $390 million.

Exports of goods and services reached $1.2 billion in 2004; imports climbed at $2.0 billion, resulting in a resource balance of -$766 million. The current account balance was -$173 million in 2004, an improvement from the previous year's -$181 deficit. External debt reached $1.4 billion in the same year, and its total reserves (including gold) were $321 million, covering only two months of imports.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

Moldova's banking sector will play a key role in the country's transition from a managed economy to a market economy. The banking system was reformed in 1991. The National Bank of Moldova (NBM, the central bank) is charged with implementing monetary policy and issuing currency. State banks include the State Savings Bank, with 1,000 branches, and the Bank for Foreign Economic Exchange. Holdovers from the old Soviet system include three regional banks, which have been changed to joint-stock companies whose shares are owned by state enterprises. There are 20 commercial banks in the country with licenses to perform international transactions. The currency unit is the leu, introduced in late November 1993.

November 1993 was a turning point for Moldova's financial stability. The NBM became a fully independent central bank with its own administrative council, and was no longer required to finance industrial and agricultural funding shortfalls. As the leu was introduced, the NBM started phasing out credit emissions. As of January 1994, the NBM became fully responsible for monetary policy.

The bank has two policy instruments: reserve requirements which were raised progressively throughout 1994, and interest rates. The discount rate reached a peak of 377% in February 1994, and was kept high despite the subsequent dramatic fall in inflation. As of 2001, the money market rate was 11%.

The banking system comprises four former Soviet banks, Agroindbank, Molindconbank, Moldotsbank, and the Savings Bank, as well as 20 commercial banks at the end of 2002. As in many other republics of the former Soviet Union, licensing procedures in the early 1990s were quite lax, with the result that the country is now overbanked, with too many small institutions, and a relatively high level of nonperforming loans (11% of total commercial bank balance sheets as of mid-1996).

Moldova's 15 voucher funds have played an important role in the privatization program. Most citizens have opted to invest their vouchers in the funds rather than directly acquire shares in newly privatized companies.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $194.3 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $377.1 million. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 11%.

The Chişinău-based Moldovan Stock Exchange opened for business in June 1995. Trading is electronic and is based on an order-driven system. As of mid-1996, it listed 11 shares. The most actively traded shares are Cupicini Canning Factory and Banea de Economii. As of 1998, there were 15 investment funds and eight trust companies. A commodities exchange is planned. The government began auctioning 91-day treasury bills in 1995 and introduced 730-day treasury bills in 1997.

Foreign currency reserves at the NBM rose by one-third in 1996, from $226.7 million at end-1995 to $304.1 million. This is to be explained by the substantial inflows of funds from multilateral institutions, notably, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In December 1996, Moldova made its debut in the international bond market with a $30 million floating rate note issued as a private placement through Merrill Lynch.

INSURANCE

The demand for insurance services continues to rise. Forty companies employing 2,800 persons competed for the insurance market in 1998.

PUBLIC FINANCE

In 1993, following independence, Moldova undertook a massive privatization program. By January 2003, 80% of all housing units were in private hands, as were nearly all small, medium, and large businesses. Agriculture was privatized ending in 2000 through a US-sponsored program called "Pamint" (land).

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Moldova's central government took in revenues of approximately $1 billion and had expenditures of $1 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately $4 million. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 72.9% of GDP. Total external debt was $1.926 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2003, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were mld7,376.8 million and expenditures were mld6,828.5 million. The value of revenues was us$529 million and expenditures us$487 million, based on an exchange rate for 2003 of us$1 = mld13.9449 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 33.4%; defense, 1.7%; public order and safety, 7.7%; economic affairs, 3.3%; environmental protection, 0.5%; health, 6.2%; recreation, culture, and religion, 1.5%; education, 9.2%; and social protection, 36.5%.

TAXATION

The personal income tax rate ranges from 1050%. The corporate rate is a standard 18%. Capital gains derived from the sale, exchange or transfer of capital assets are taxed at an effective rate of 9%. Dividends are subject to a 10% withholding tax if paid to nonresidents, and 18% if paid to resident legal entities. Dividends

Revenue and Grants 7,376.8 100.0%
    Tax revenue 4,052.5 54.9%
    Social contributions 1,978.2 26.8%
    Grants
    Other revenue 1,346.1 18.2%
Expenditures 6,828.5 100.0%
    General public services 2,279.4 33.4%
    Defense 114.7 1.7%
    Public order and safety 525.5 7.7%
    Economic affairs 227.8 3.3%
    Environmental protection 35.3 0.5%
    Housing and community amenities 0.8 <1.0%
    Health 421.8 6.2%
    Recreational, culture, and religion 101.6 1.5%
    Education 627 9.2%
    Social protection 2,494.6 36.5%
() data not available or not significant.

received by resident individuals from resident and nonresident companies are considered part of taxable income. Dividends paid to Moldovan citizens by resident firms are exempt from taxation. Payroll taxes are charged at rates of 4.730%. Also levied is a 20% value-added tax (VAT). A reduced rate applies to bread, milk and other dairy products. For five years, 2002 to 2007, a number of housing projects will be exempt from VAT.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

Moldova's foreign trade environment is characterized by extensive export and import tariffs, exhaustive license requirements, and export quotas. Under the provisions of a 2001 budget law, all imports are assessed a 5% tax of their customs cost regardless of their country of origin. Moldova also levies customs tariffs on all imports except those from the former Soviet Union, Romania, the European Union, and a select group of countries with which Moldova has free trade agreements. Excise taxes apply to automobiles (30%), alcoholic beverages (50%), electronics (50%), and cigarettes (70%). Since 1998 most imports are subject to a value-added tax (VAT) that amounts to 20% of the customs value of the goods. Grain and medical supplies may be imported duty-free.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

With the exception of certain state-controlled enterprises, current legislation does not restrict foreign capital participation in Moldovan enterprises. Some foreign equity participation in privatization of government-owned enterprises is also possible. Land under privatized enterprises can now be owned by the enterprise owners. Barriers in Moldova to foreign investment involve the underdeveloped banking, insurance, legal, and trade services.

In 1997 and 1998, average annual foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Moldova had reached $77 million, up from about $24 million in 1996. In 1998, the financial crisis in Russia, which accounts for a 30% share of Moldova's inward FDI, helped reduce inflows to $40.6 million for the year, but in 2000 and 2001, record levels of FDI inflows of $143 million and $160 million, respectively, were attained. Total FDI stock has increased 22 times over since independence. The total stock of FDI in Moldova reached $620 million in 2001, equivalent to 36% of GDP and about 82% of gross fixed capital formation (compared to the world average of 22%). Moldova's share of world inflows of FDI from 1998 to 2000, while small in absolute terms, was 1.7 times its share of world GDP. Foreign investment was $110.8 million in 2003, and by 2004 total investments made up 17.1% of the GDP.

Moldova remains a relatively unattractive market for investors due to the ongoing conflict in Transnistria. It has however a significant future potential due to its highly educated population, low wages, and competitive costs.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

In March 1993, the Moldovan government inaugurated the Program of Activity of the Government 199295 to make the transition to a market-oriented economy. The first stage focused on stabilization, including price liberalization, and the second stage concentrated on economic recovery and growth, including privatization, agrarian reform, infrastructure development, social protection, and trade reform. However, the government was slow to institute privatization in the agricultural sector. Although the government backed privatization, freed prices and interest rates, and removed export controls, economic growth was difficult. By 1998, Moldova's economy stood at one-third its 1989 level. In large part, this decline is due to unfavorable circumstances: the Transnistrian conflict, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the near-total loss of the grape crop in 1997, and the Russian 1998 financial crisis.

As of 2002, close to 2,000 small, medium, and large enterprises had been privatized, as were 80% of all housing units. Nearly all of Moldova's agricultural land is privatized as well. In 2000, Moldova negotiated a three-year $147 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to expire in December 2003. Moldova joined the WTO in 2001. That year, the government adopted laws to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The economy had turned around: spurred by industrial growth and a good harvest in 2001, real gross domestic product (GDP) growth increased by 6%. Nevertheless, Moldova carries a heavy external debt burden, and depends upon international financial support, including from the private sector.

Moldova remains one of Europe's poorest economies, and is highly dependent on agriculture. It has virtually no mineral resources, its industrial base is situated in conflict stricken Transnistria, and it relies on Russia and Romania for most of its energy supply. The World Bank considers Moldova to be a low-income country, and most of the household consumption (and subsequently most of its economic growth) is fueled by remittances from abroad.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

A social insurance system provides benefits for old age, disability, and survivorship in addition to worker's compensation for injury and unemployment, and family allowances. Benefits are available to salaried citizens, agricultural workers, the self-employed, and public officials. The government contributes the whole cost of social pensions for those who are excluded from coverage from the national social security system. Medical care is available to all residents. Moldova has comprehensive legislation for the protection of children, including programs for paid maternity leave, a birth grant, and family allowances. Sickness and maternity benefits were first implemented in 1993, and were updated in 2003.

Although women are accorded equal rights under the law, they are underrepresented in government and other leadership positions. Nevertheless, the president of the country's largest bank is a woman, and women constitute a growing percentage of publicsector managers. Several women's organizations participate in political or charitable activities. Domestic violence remains a problem and is rarely prosecuted. In 2004 the government took efforts to increase public awareness of the problem.

The constitution provides for equality under the law regardless of race, sex, disability, religion, or social origin, but discrimination persists. The minority Roma population continues to suffer violence and harassment. Human rights are generally observed and respected, although there were reports of mistreatment of prisoners and detainees. Prison conditions remain harsh.

HEALTH

Moldova has been working on developing its own standards for health care. As of 2004, there were an estimated 35 physicians per 100,000 people. Total health care expenditures were 6.4% of GDP.

The birth rate was 14 per 1,000 people and the maternal mortality rate was 34 per 100,000 live births in 2003. Average life expectancy was 65.18 years in 2005. The infant mortality rate for that year was 40.42 per 1,000 live births. The overall death rate was estimated at 12.6 per 1,000 people as of 2002. In 1992, there were approximately 1,000 deaths from ethnic conflict within the country. Nearly the entire urban population (96%), but only 9% of the rural population, had access to sanitation.

Moldova's immunization rates for children up to one year old were: tuberculosis, 99%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 97%; polio, 98%; and measles, 99%. Despite immunization rates, epidemic diphtheria has spread throughout the new independent states of the former Soviet Union. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.20 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 5,500 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 300 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

HOUSING

In 2000, there were about 1.3 million housing units in about 910,000 buildings nationwide. Though the government has encouraged privatization of housing and individual home ownership, most residents, particularly in urban areas, find home ownership to be far too expensive in a poor economy. The existing housing stock is in serious disrepair and overcrowding is an issue. Most structures were built before 1980 and maintenance has been poor. Only about 28.9% of all dwellings have an indoor bathroom; only 31% have access to a sewage system. About 62% of all households use wells as a primary source of water. In 1999, only 2,900 structures were completed. Most new housing is built with brick or stone and concrete frames. The average number of rooms per dwelling is about 2.8.

EDUCATION

While Moldova was a part of the Soviet Union, its education system was based on the Soviet pattern, and Russian was the language of instruction. However, after its separation, extensive changes were introduced in the education system. Education is compulsory for 11 years, between the ages of 6 and 17. Primary school covers four years of study. This is followed by five years of general secondary studies. Upper secondary studies may cover two or three years of study, depending on a student's interests. The academic year runs from September to July.

In 2001, about 39% of children between the ages of three and six were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 79% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 69% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 82.5% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 19:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 13:1.

The Moldovan State University was founded in 1945 and uses both Moldovan and Russian as languages of instruction. In 2003, about 30% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program; 26% for men and 34% for women. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 96.2%.

The primary administrative body is the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.9% of GDP, or 21.4% of total government expenditures.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

The National Library at Chişinău holds 418,000 volumes. The Scientific and Technical Library of Moldova holds about 600,000 volumes. The country's largest library, at the State University of Moldova, has over 1.82 million volumes, including a valuable rare books collection. The Technical University of Moldova has over 1.04 million volumes. The country had a public library system of over 1,300 branches.

Chişinău is home to several museums, including the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National History Museum, the Museum of Ethnography and Archaeology, and the Alexander Pushkin House and Museum. The Museum of Popular Art is in Ivancea.

MEDIA

Telecommunications links are via land line to the Ukraine and through Moscow's switching center to countries beyond the former USSR. In 2003, there were an estimated 219 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 88,000 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. Also in 2003, there were approximately 132 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

The state-operated Teleradio-Moldova operates one television and one radio station. Many stations are independent. In 2003, there were about 20 radio stations and 30 television stations in operation. In 2003, there were an estimated 758 radios and 296 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 24.6 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 17.5 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 80 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were nine secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

A wide variety of political views and commentaries are expressed through a number of newspapers and periodicals. National and city governments sponsor newspapers, as do political parties, professional organizations, and trade unions. The largest newspapers in 2002 were Moldova Suverana (Sovereign Moldova, circulation 105,000), Nezavisimaya Moldova (Independent Moldova, 60,692), and Viata Satului (Life of the Village, 50,000).

The constitution provides for free speech and a free press, and the government is said to generally respect these rights.

ORGANIZATIONS

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Moldova handles the internal and external economic affairs of the country. The Central Union of Consumers Co-operatives of the Republic of Moldova serves farmers as well as a variety of food producers and retailers. There are trade and professional associations throughout the country as well.

Political associations and organizations in the country include the Union of Council of Labor Collectives (ULC), Ecology Movement of Moldova (EMM), the Christian Democratic League of Women of Moldova, and the Alliance of Working People of Moldova.

The Academy of Sciences of Moldova works to promote public interest and education in scientific fields.

There are several sports associations within the country, including branches of the Special Olympics and the Paralympic Committee. The National Scout Organization of Moldova offers programs for youth.

The NGO Club was formed to assist in the development and consolidation of various organizations, as well as to serve as an informational network between groups. National women's organizations include the Women's Organization of Moldova (est. 1996) and the Gender in Development (GID) Project (est. 1994). International organizations with national chapters include Save the Children, Caritas, and the Red Cross.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

Picturesque scenery, several casinos, and wineries are the primary attractions of Moldova, including Cricova, the underground wine city. Unfortunately, civil unrest since Moldova's independence has caused a decline in tourism. In 2003, there were 23,598 tourist arrivals and tourism receipts totaled $83 million. There were 2,559 hotel rooms with 4,632 beds and an occupancy rate of 22%. Tourists need a valid passport to enter Moldova. Members and candidates to join the European Union, Canada, Japan, the United States, and many other European countries do not need a visa to enter Moldova for stays of up to 90 days.

In 2004, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Moldova at $202.

FAMOUS MOLDOVANS

Petru Lucinschi (b.1940) was elected president in 1996, and served until 2001. He succeeded Mircea Snegur (b.1940), the first president of the Republic of Moldova. Vladimir Nicolae Voronin (b.1941) became president in 2001.

DEPENDENCIES

Moldova has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brezianu, Andrei. Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Moldova. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2000.

Dannreuther, Roland. European Union Foreign and Security Policy: Towards a Neighbourhood Strategy. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Dima, Nicholas. From Moldavia to Moldova: The Soviet-Romanian Territorial Dispute. 2nd ed. Boulder, Colo.: East European Monographs, 1991.

Dyer, Donald (ed.). Studies in Moldovan: The History, Culture, Language and Contemporary Politics of the People of Moldova. Boulder, Colo.: East European Monographs, 1996.

Gribincea, Mihai. Agricultural Collectivization in Moldavia: Basarabia during Stalinism, 19441950. Boulder, Colo.: East European Monographs, 1996.

King, Charles. The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 2000.

Lobell, Steven E. and Philip Mauceri (eds.). Ethnic Conflict and International Politics: Explaining Diffusion and Escalation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

McElrath, Karen (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Mitrasca, Marcel. Moldova: A Romanian Province under Russian Rule: Diplomatic History from the Archives of the Great Powers. New York: Algora, 2002.

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Moldova

MOLDOVA

Republic of Moldova

Major City:
Chisinau

Other Cities:
Beltsy, Bendery, Tiraspol

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 2000 for Moldova. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

Moldova is a picturesque country, all rolling green hills, whitewashed villages, placid lakes, and sunflower fields-with an old world charm that is hard to manufacture. It also has some of the best vineyards in Europe. It is densely populated, with numerous ethnic groups represented, but the majority are ethnic Romanians. The economy is heavily dependent on labor-intensive agriculture, and Moldova must import virtually 100% of its primary energy. Chisinau is a moderatesized city that has preserved much of its pre-Soviet character, with many low-rise, older structures and tree-shaded streets that have survived in the central city.

With its cultural ties to Russia, Romania, and Turkey, Moldova is something of an enigma. It has risen from the ruins of Soviet socialism to become a democratic republic split in two, one area controlled by the government and the other by separatist rebels loyal to Mother Russia. Unification with Romania, its closest neighbor, is an on again/off again issue, and yet it has more in common with other former Soviet countries. The official language, Moldovan, is phonetically identical to Romanian, but school and university classes are all taught in Russian. Everything in Moldova has an equal and opposite reaction.

Originally Moldova was part of the greater region of Moldavia. It lies directly between Russia and Romania and has always been the focal point for border disputes and expansionist policies. Prior to its tenuous unification, it had been overrun, split up, reunited, conquered, annexed, renamed, and taken back again many times over. It has been a long and bloody journey from the principality of Moldavia to the republic of Moldova, and it seems fitting that the flag includes a band of red signifying the blood spilled in defending the country.

The region was made a focal point for the diaspora of Magyars, Slavs, and Bulgarians spreading across Eastern Europe. By the beginning of the Middle Ages, Moldavia (as part of Romania) was already a potpourri of different races and cultures.

In the mid-14th century, Moldavia was subsumed under the Ottoman empire, and it remained under Turkish suzerainty until 1711. In 1812 Turkey and Russia signed the Bucharest Treaty, which gave the eastern half of Moldavia to the Russians (renamed Bessarabia) and the rest of Moldavia and Wallachia to Romania.

Bessarabia remained under Russian control until the 1918 Bolshevik Revolution, when it reunited with Romania as a protective measure. In 1939 the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact handed Bessarabia back to the U.S.S.R., which it renamed the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (M.S.S.R.). The area was reoccupied by Romanian forces between 1941 and 1944, when the Soviet authorities once again took control.

With the collapse of Communism in the mid-1980s and Gorbachev's policies of glasnost and perestroika, reform followed, and finally, in 1991, Moldova declared its full independence.

Unity and peaceful coexistence seem tenuous, as republicans struggle to keep all the pieces together and smooth over the contradictions of being part Romanian, part Russian, and wholly Moldovan.

MAJOR CITY

Chisinau

Chisinau, Moldova's capital, is located almost in the center of the country on the river Bik. The first written mention of Chisinau dates to the 14th century when the region was under Turkish domination. During WWII, extensive portions of Chisinau were destroyed. The post-war reconstruction includes many typical examples of Soviet architecture, but the older sections of town retain much of their charm. Despite the size of the city (approximately 800,000 people), Chisinau still has a small town feeling. There are numerous pastel-colored single-and two-story houses in the city proper, built by traders and merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries. With large trees lining almost all of the streets in the city center, Chisinau is one of the greenest cities on earth from April to October.

Utilities

Electricity in Moldova is 220v, 50 cycle, AC. Items which depend on a stable supply of cycles (e.g., clock radios, answering machines with "date/time stamp" feature) to function correctly are not recommended: local 50 cycle current causes them to lose time every day. Bring 220v voltage stabilizers or surge protectors to protect sensitive, high fidelity, computers or similar equipment. A 110v computer with a voltage stabilizer or UPS will work through a transformer. Bring a good quality short wave radio that can run off 220v electricity as well as batteries.

Bring a supply of European electrical adapters and wall plugs.

Food

There are two Western-quality supermarkets in Chisinau: Green Hills and Fidesco. These supermarkets have a good Western-made selection of goods, sanitary refrigerated meats, packed fruits and vegetables and pasteurized dairy products.

In spring and summer, fruits and vegetables are abundant in this agricultural country. Every visitor to Chisinau should experience the Central Market-it is the largest market in town for fresh meats, fruits, vegetables and dairy products. There are many smaller neighborhood markets. Most Moldovans have kitchen gardens, even in Chisinau. In season, you will learn what "vine-ripened" and "fresh-picked" really mean. During summer, people eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and Moldovans spend considerable time canning and preserving for winter months. Unfortunately, no one has found a way to preserve lettuce, which appears in the open markets briefly in early May. Occasionally, however, the supermarket Green Hills has lettuce in the winter. Beef, chicken and pork are available year round. The latter two meats are of excellent quality: beef usually requires a longer cooking time to become tender.

Some food products that are not usually available in Moldova are: peanut butter, brown sugar, dry yeast, baking powder, good quality powder sugar, vanilla extract, unsweetened cocoa, and unsweetened baking chocolate.

Chisinau's restaurants, small and large, are still short of international standards, but the scene is improving. One can have a good meal at very reasonable prices. Some restaurants accept credit cards but prefer to receive cash. Tips are generally not included in the bill, except for large parties. The standard tip is 10% or less. Reservations are recommended. Moldovan cooking is an interesting combination of Balkan, Romanian, Russian and Ukranian influences. Mamaliga (cornmeal, similar to polenta), feta cheese, and the abundant seasonal fruits and vegetables are staple items. The cuisine is not spicy but uses liberal amounts of onions, peppers, and garlic. Upscale restaurants serve a more international Eastern European cuisine, rather than true Moldovan cooking. There are also Indian, Chinese, Turkish, Georgian, and even two Moldovan-Mexican restaurants.

In summertime there is a wonderful explosion of sidewalk cafes with colorful Sprite and Coca-Cola umbrellas.

McDonald's has one downtown and one drive-thru restaurant, with more planned.

Clothing

Moldovans are quite fashion conscious, and enjoy getting dressed up for social events, although there are few true "black tie" events in Chisinau. For most formal receptions, a dark suit is the norm for men, and a long or short dress for women. It is a good idea to bring a lot of warm winter clothes, as many public (and private) buildings are only minimally heated during the winter months. Long down or wool coats are a must, as are sturdy waterproof snow boots, since the streets are icy and muddy throughout the winter. Also plan to bring lots of warm socks and gloves or mittens. Locally made fur hats are both fashionable and practical. Clothes are available in Chisinau although they are labeled in European sizes. Business clothes are of poor quality or are very expensive.

Supplies and Services

Although Chisinau shops carry an ever-greater variety of items, do not rely solely on the local economy since supplies are erratic and the price/quality ratio is higher than in the U.S. The following items are available, although supply, quality and price fluctuate wildly: toiletries, cosmetics, medicines, first-aid items, tobacco products, laundry detergent and other basic home, recreational and entertainment supplies. A good basic rule is to decide how devoted you are to a specific brand or kind of product. The vast majority of generic items is available.

Generally, basic supplies and services are expensive and irregularly available. Most repairs are hindered by a lack of spare parts. Barbershops are, in most cases, satisfactory. Beauty salons offer a range of services from pedicures and manicures to hair and eyelash coloring. The variety of salon-quality products is limited. Therefore, if you use a specific brand of hair coloring and/or treatment products, you should purchase them where available. Good quality dry cleaning is available.

Domestic Help

Good, reliable help is available, and English-speakers are becoming easier to find.

Host country laws concerning payment and legal employment of local help are still vague and changing.

Religious Activities

Although most residents of Moldova are at least nominally Orthodox, Protestant churches have increased their activities in recent years with the increased religious freedom. Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, the Church of Latter Day Saints, and other denominations hold services in churches around Chisinau and in many other areas. At present, there are no American congregations, nor are services conducted in English, al-though there are American Missionaries working with some of the Protestant churches. The Salvation Army has also begun activities in Chisinau. There is a small Roman Catholic community, with one Catholic Church in Chisinau. It holds services in Romanian, Russian, Polish, and German (sometimes during the same mass). There is one working synagogue in Chisinau for the Jewish community.

Education

QSI International School of Chisinau is an affiliate of Quality Schools International. All classes are taught in English and the school uses an American curriculum. Some expatriate families follow homestudy courses with their children. Enrollment (pre-K-8, at the QSI for the 1999-2000 school year was 22 students.

There are several, excellent private pre-K and grammar schools with curriculums taught either in Romanian or Russian. Both the Romanian and Russian curriculums emphasize foreign language training, English being one of the most widely taught languages. A growing number of expatriate children are enrolled in local pre-K and kindergarten programs (kindergarten typically is extended through age six, with children starting grammar school at age seven). Presently, there are no high-school age, expatriate dependents attending school in Chisinau.

University-level education in Moldova normally requires mastery of Russian or Romanian as a basic prerequisite.

Entertainment

Like any other city, Chisinau has a charm and warmth all its own. Visitors can easily find some interesting activities in Chisinau. In the fall and winter the local opera and concert circuit comes alive. The quality of the performances is excellent. Chisinau's numerous music schools support and promote classical music. Concerts are held at the Organ Hall, the National Palace, the Philharmonic Hall, and the Theater of Opera and Ballet.

There are two local movie theaters that meet Western standards: comfortable seating, surround sound, and large screens. The Patria theater screens American movies dubbed over in Russian. The Odeon Theater screens American movies in English with Romanian subtitles. In addition there is a local club that shows films in English throughout the week.

The National Library of the Republic of Moldova carries primarily Russian and Romanian books but has a small selection of English-and other foreign-language books. There are several museums in town, including the Museum of Natural History and Ethnography, the National History Museum, and the Pushkin Museum. (The famous Russian poet lived in Moldova 1820-23.)

There are a new amusement park and a variety of circus shows in Chisinau. Chisinau has a city zoo. A new, outdoor swimming pool complex opened in June 1999. In the cold winter months the Fitness Club offers a first-class sauna, with dunking pool, and a trained massage therapist.

Social Activities

The International Women's Club of Moldova sponsors activities and interest groups for its members. The Moldova-International Charity Association formed by expatriates, raises funds for Moldovan children. These two organizations sponsor several annual events that expatriates look forward to and attend: The October Charity Ball, the December Christmas Bazaar, and the March St. Patrick's Day Auction. Moldovans are generally curious to see how Americans live, and will respond to social invitations. They are generous hosts and appreciative guests, as Moldovans are willing to experiment with most foods. The music culture is very deep in Moldova and many people include the performance of music in an evening of dinner with guests.

OTHER CITIES

The city of BELTSY is located in north central Moldova. Beltsy is the home of several major industries, among them wine making, sugar refining, and tobacco processing. Other industries in the city produce fur coats, machinery, and furniture. Beltsy has a population of approximately 162,000.

BENDERY is one of Moldova's oldest cities. Founded around the 2nd century B.C., the city is situated southeast of Kishinev on the Dniester River. Throughout history, Bendery has been attacked and occupied by various foreign powers. The city was totally destroyed during World War II, but has been completely rebuilt. Bendery is a manufacturing center for textiles, electrical equipment, and food stuffs. Silk manufactured in Bendery is among the finest in the world. A 17th century Turkish fortress still stands in Bendery and is a reminder of the city's ancient past. Bendery's population is roughly 132,000.

The city of TIRASPOL is located on the Dniester River just east of Bendery. Tiraspol was founded in 1795 and was incorporated into the Moldovian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1929. During World War II, the city was heavily damaged after a series of battles between the Soviet Union and Germany. The Soviets gained control of Tiraspol in 1944. Following the end of World War II, the city was rebuilt. Tiraspol is an industrial center noted for canning and wine making. Other industries in Tiraspol produce farm equipment, footwear, textiles, furniture, carpets, and electrical equipment. Tiraspol has a population of approximately 186,000.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

Moldova encompasses what was until August 1991 the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, and is located between Romania and Ukraine. Except for a small strip of land on the Danube River, the country is land-locked. Moldova is a relatively small country, about 300 km long and 100 km across, about the same size as Maryland. Its total land boundary is 1,389 km. Its total area is 33,700 square km. The land border with Romania is 939 km and with Ukraine 450 km. The area east of the Dniester (Nistru) river, along with the city of Bender west of the Dniester, is the breakaway and officially unrecognized Transnistrian Moldovan Republic, or Transnistria. Transnistria is not recognized by Moldova, the U.S., or by any other country. Tiraspol is the capital of Transnistria. Moldova's total population is 4.4 million, of whom 800,000 live in Chisinau. The majority of the population lives in the countryside in villages organized around former state farms.

Moldova's climate is mild in the winter and warm in the summer-approximately that of New York City. Winter temperatures are typically in the 20s (F) but occasionally fall below zero. Highs in the summer are typically in the 80s but can go as high as 100. There are four distinct seasons, with foliage on trees between April and October. The climate is semi-arid. The countryside is comprised mainly of gently rolling agricultural lands with a gradual slope south toward the Black Sea. Seventy percent of the soil is composed of the famous, fertile "Black Earth" (chernozim) in this region. Because of the clearing of land for agricultural cultivation-especially in the Soviet era for grape production-there are few forests or woodlands. There has been soil erosion due to farming methods. The effect in the cities is that occasional dust can blow up from the streets in gusts. Humidity in the summer can be high but mildew and insects are not significant factors. Moldova is sparse in natural mineral resources, with some lignite, phosphorites, and gypsum. Moldova has suffered with other countries in the region from serious environmental damage from the heavy use of agricultural chemicals, including pesticides banned in the West such as DDT.

Substantial amounts of its soil and ground water are contaminated. Because of the extensive use of asbestos in construction, village and urban area soil may have, in some areas, high concentrations of asbestos mixed with the soil. The two principal rivers-the Prut on the west and Dniester in the east-are polluted. Untreated drinking water may have heavy metal contamination, as well as pollution from agricultural chemicals.

Population

Moldova has approximately 4,400,000 inhabitants. It is the most densely inhabited of the former Soviet Union Republics. About 65 percent of the population is Moldovan (ethnic Romanian), 14 percent is Ukrainian, and 13 percent Russian. There are also small communities of Gagauz (Christian Turks) and Bulgarians, mostly in the south. Moldova is a largely agricultural country, with more than a third of the population employed in the agricultural sector and agroprocessing, including the production of wine and other alcoholic beverages (brandy, champagne), vegetables and fruits, sugar, grain, sunflower seeds and oil, cattle and pigs. The population in the countryside is largely ethnic Moldovan, with a number of Ukrainian villages, especially in the north. In the main cities, ethnic Russians and Ukrainians predominate. The state language is Moldovan (Romanian), although Russian is extensively used. Most of the population of Moldova is at least nominally Orthodox, and Moldova has preserved many Orthodox traditions, including colorful Easter celebrations and church festivals.

Moldova has a proud tradition of hospitality, and is renowned for its wine, cognac and champagne. Many people, even in the city, make their own homemade wines and are eager to share them with visitors. Local cuisine shows the mixture of cultures, with traditional Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian and Jewish foods popular. National dishes include mamaliga (similar to polenta), placinta (a pastry filled with cheese, potatoes, or cabbage), and sarmale (stuffed cabbage); Russian-style borscht and caviar are also favorites.

Public Institutions

In June 1991, the Moldovan Supreme Soviet (parliament) announced the republic's sovereignty, and on 27 August 1991, declared the independence of the Republic of Moldova. After that, the forum revised the legislation and conducted multiparty elections. In the summer of 1994, the Republic of Moldova adopted a Constitution, dividing the power between an elected president, a prime minister and the parliament. In the summer of 1995 Moldova was admitted to several international organizations, including the Council of Europe-the first former Soviet republic to be admitted. Expanding its relations with the West, the Moldovan leadership, particularly the new Parliament, also preserves its ties with former Soviet Union republics. Parliamentary elections in March 1998 yielded 40 seats for communists (30% of the votes), while the centrist pro-presidential party received 24 seats (18% of the vote), and two center-right wing parties received 25 and 12 seats (26% of the vote). The center and center-right parties formed a coalition government, the first true coalition government in the former Soviet Union, with the communist bloc as the opposition. Two new governments have succeeded the center-right coalition. The transition was peaceful and democratic.

Arts, Science, and Education

Chisinau has an active cultural life, especially in classical music, although the institutions have suffered from the economic difficulties of the country. During the season, from mid-autumn to late spring, there are regular performances by the opera, ballet, national symphony, and smaller musical groups. The Organ Hall and the Philharmonic Hall are frequent venues for concerts by local ensembles and touring groups. In addition to classical music, traditional folk music is very popular; Moldovan ensembles such as Flueras and Lautari are well known throughout the former Soviet Union. The folk dance ensemble " Joc " is especially admired for its performances featuring traditional dances from throughout the region. Chisinau also has several theaters performing in Romanian and Russian.

The Chekhov Theater performs classic Russian plays as well as some modern works and translations. The Eugene Ionescu Theater performs avant-garde and modern plays in Romanian. Several other theaters feature musicals, satirical plays or traditional favorites. A puppet theater in the center of town offers regular performances in Russian and Romanian, and the Circus hosts a wide variety of touring groups in addition to local performers.

Moldova has a number of institutions of higher learning, including the State University and the Independent International University, plus several pedagogical institutes and polytechnical institutes. Moldova has a special interest in agricultural research, and the Academy of Science has a large number of highly qualified specialists in this area. English is now widely taught and increasingly used, especially among young people.

Commerce and Industry

Moldova had relatively little of the Soviet military-industrial complex. Much of its industrial capacity was concentrated in light industry such as radioelectronics, clothing, and food processing. The industrial sector throughout Moldova has suffered from declining output, lack of investment, loss of markets, inefficient production, higher energy costs and new competition from Western producers. Many of the big enterprises have not been fully restructured. Industrial production continued to decline in 1999. Moldova's best export prospects for the future are agroindustry and production of wine and cognac, if these can be upgraded to assure consistent quality.

Transportation

Automobiles

Poor road conditions and aggressive local driving habits increase the possibility that a car will need service and/or repair during its stay in Moldova. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is desirable and advisable in this environment.

A new former Soviet-made car can be purchased for from $3,000 to $8,000. Americans find the level of comfort and the quality of assembly to be below that of Western-made automobiles, but it is easier to get a former Soviet-made car repaired in Moldova than a Western-made car.

It is not possible to export a former Soviet-made car to the U.S., as it will not meet EPA standards. Unleaded gasoline is available and new Western-style gas stations with minimarkets and car washes are becoming common throughout Moldova.

There is a rental car service in Chisinau (dispatcher speaks English). Cars with drivers are available for hire. Americans have rented Western cars for driving around town and for longer trips. The rental rate for a car and a driver is $25 per day. Vans with a driver can be rented for $50 per day.

Local

There is an extensive bus and mini-bus system, with low fares, but these are very crowded and uncomfortable. Expatriates seldom use public transport. A few Americans have encountered nonviolent theft on crowded buses.

Taxis are available by telephone or on the main streets. Taxi stands offer a blend of modern vehicles and decrepit older models, and the passenger does get to choose among them. Rates are reasonable. Most local cab drivers speak only Russian or Romanian. One telephone dispatch company aimed at expatriates does have an English-speaker dispatcher and drivers who speak at least some English. Some expatriates rely heavily on this company, which charges a flat rate, about $3 per trip.

Between the cities and the towns of Moldova, trains and buses are available at relatively reasonable prices. There are no internal air flights in Moldova.

Regional

Air Moldova, Air Moldova International, Tyrolean Airlines, TAROM, Moldavian Airlines and Transaero serve Chisinau. The following major cities are served at least 3 days per week: Athens, Beirut, Bucharest, Budapest, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Kiev, Moscow, Odessa, Paris, Tel Aviv, Vienna, and Warsaw. Americans can buy tickets in Chisinau for cash only: no travelers checks, credit cards, or other negotiable instruments.

American travelers have also gone to Kiev and Bucharest via train. It is less expensive than a plane, but it is a long, difficult trip. There is no heat in the winter or ventilation in the summer. Some travelers have had problems with border police on the train from Kiev.

Moldova and its neighbors have similar conditions for long-range driving. Moldova and all nearby countries use left-hand drive, have an extremely limited number of roads with more than two lanes, and have aggressive road police who often stop foreign cars. Carrying your diplomatic I.D. and/or your diplomatic passport at all times when driving is recommended, but especially when outside of Chisinau. In Moldova, the road police will usually not hinder any polite American diplomat carrying identification.

Travelers are advised to fill their tanks before they leave, although Moldova has seen a proliferation of gas stations along the major roads. Travelers should expect long lines at the borders. If you are in a vehicle with diplomatic plates and are carrying a diplomatic passport, you may slowly make your way to the front of the line and receive expeditious processing through the border. Russian-or Romanian-language skills are useful in these situations.

Communications

Telephone and Telegraph

Local telephone service is generally fair to good. Installation of new phones is possible but slow, as are repairs to existing lines. International calls to the U.S. and Europe can be placed via direct dial, and reception is generally good. Rates can vary between USD 1.50 to 3.00 per minute depending on the call. Overseas telegraph and Fax facilities, though available, are not always reliable. Cellular phone service is also available. The standard frequency is NMT analog. Cellular phones purchased in other countries, such as the U.S., can be used here but must be registered (cost is $300).

Radio and TV

There are two AM radio stations broadcasting daily with more scheduled to start soon. Several FM stations are also operating. All broadcast a variety of music and programs in Romanian and Russian with some English-language music interspersed. To receive shortwave broadcasts, such as the VOA and BBC, you need a good shortwave radio.

Moldova has one television station that broadcasts daily, mostly in the Romanian language. Moldova also receives two other stations, one from Bucharest in Romanian and the other from Moscow, in Russian. Shows cover the full range of local and international news plus sports, musical entertainment, locally produced plays, educational broadcasts, movies, and some American TV shows. Most programming is in Romanian or Russian with two or three movies and a few shorter programs shown weekly in English. TV is transmitted by the 625 PAL D/K European system, which can be picked up with a multisystem receiver. Some local electronics firms have opened, and multi-system televisions and VCR's are readily available. Moldova now has cable television. You can receive the above 3 stations plus 25 additional stations, 5 of which are in English, including CNN, EuroNews, and MTV HBO is available for an additional charge.

A number of private and commercial video libraries in Moldova rent tapes. These are all VHS cassettes for use with 625 PAL system equipment. The stock is mostly action-type and horror videos. All videos are in Russian. Bring a multisystem VHS videotape recorder and player if you want to rent from these collections.

Internet

Local service providers are available. The speed and reliability of E-mail service is inconsistent due to the limitations of the telephone system.

Health and Medicine

General Health Information

Local pharmacies in Moldova carry Western and local medicine but only a few of the supplies are in English. Aspirin (made in the U.S.) is available in most pharmacies. Bring a good supply of any necessary prescriptions, including contraceptives. If you have a chronic ailment, bring a large supply of the required medication.

Community Health

Weather and local sanitation can be a problem and aggravate certain health conditions. Garbage pick-up is often sporadic, but street sweeping is reliable, as is sewage disposal. Winter weather is hard because of fuel shortages, apartments and work sites often being irregularly heated. In winter, soot from burning wood and soft coal may aggravate sinus problems, asthma and allergies. Dust from unpaved roads and construction may also aggravate these conditions.

Drinking water and that used for cooking should be distilled, boiled, or filtered before using. After periods of disuse (about 8 hours), turn on taps and run water for a full 5 seconds prior to using for purifying. Running the water in such a way helps remove the lead that leaks out of the lead pipes found in most homes during periods of disuse. Bottled drinks are considered to be safe. Cholera has been identified in one of the suburban lakes near Chisinau and in some of Moldova's villages. Cholera can be prevented by treating drinking water and water used for cooking.

In addition, fruits and vegetables should be well washed, peeled, or cooked. These tend to be inexpensive during the summer but prove to be expensive in the winter.

AIDS and seropositive HIV have come to the forefront in Moldova as a public health problem, although there have been only about 20 cases registered. AIDS surveillance programs are being discussed in Moldova as well as programs for screening for HIV and Hepatitis B. Syphilis and tuberculosis are on the rise.

Preventive Measures

All immunizations must be current upon arrival. One should have Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, rabies, and meningitis inoculations. Children should have up-to-date DPT, MMR, and HIB vaccines. Bring blood-type records and immunization cards for all family members. Bring fluoride drops and vitamins with fluoride for small children. Respiratory, orthopedic, or other disorders that prohibit climbing stairs should be considered before traveling to Moldova. In Moldova, usually one flight of stairs is required to enter a building, and once inside the building, stairs abound, with either no elevator or an occasionally nonfunctioning one. Western-quality prescription glasses are available locally; however, it would be prudent to bring an extra pair of glasses and/or a copy of your prescription.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Passage, Customs & Duties

All flights to Moldova come into Chisinau airport, located roughly 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the city center. There are daily flights from Moscow, Budapest and Frankfurt, and several weekly flights from Paris, Bucharest, Vienna, and Warsaw, Prague and Bologna. Frankfurt is the most heavily used connection, with Budapest, Paris, and Vienna as good alternatives.

Chisinau may be reached by land from, with a drive that is very scenic but tiring. The eastern Carpathian Mountains in Romania require slow driving, even in good weather. Some travelers have taken a picturesque route through northern Transylvania and Bukovina, crossing the Carpathians near the Romanian city Suceava. Others have taken a southern route, crossing the Carpathians south of the Romanian city Brasov. Travelers may note that maps show routes over the mountains between these two points. These mountain passes can be dangerous and should be avoided without prior information on road conditions and weather.

Many gas stations are available enroute. Gasoline in Moldova and Romania may be purchased with local currency. Full-service stations (with windshield washing and oil checks) are available mainly in large cities, so be sure that your vehicle is in good condition before traveling. Carry spare belts, etc., for small emergency repairs on the road. In general, fill up the tank before traveling. Winter driving on Moldovan roads is hazardous, and you will not find places to stop should the need arise. Do not drive to Chisinau in winter. Avoid driving in threatening or treacherous weather no matter how sturdy or well equipped your car is. Bring nonperishable foods and soft drinks or bottled water for consumption on the road.

The drive to Chisinau can be made from Budapest in two driving days. From the Greek or Turkish borders driving to Chisinau should take about 24 hours. Roads in Eastern Europe are two lane, and traffic is light to moderate by Western standards. Encountering slow moving trucks, tractors, tractor-trailer trucks, bicycles, motorcycles, and horse-drawn carts is not unusual. Allow ample time for these inconveniences. Be sure your Moldovan visa is in order before arriving at the border.

Do not drive at night in Eastern Europe. The road and most vehicles are poorly lighted, and people and livestock are often in the middle of the road. Never drive fast and be alert to pedestrians (who fail, in most cases, to look before stepping out into traffic and other obstacles. In Moldova, pedestrians do not obey traffic signals, and the streets are dimly lit. Streets in Moldova are dimly lit. Caution is strongly advised for evening driving. Fog can be a problem in fall and winter. Highways can be slippery when wet and one must beware of dirt and mud left by farm vehicles. Become familiar with international road signs before driving into Moldova. Have available your car's registration papers and the internationally recognized "green card" third-party liability insurance.

Obtain an international drivers license before arriving, which is available in the U.S. from the American Automobile Association. You must have a valid U.S. or foreign license and maintain its validity.

Travel by car into Moldova from the West through the Albita-Leuseni crossing in Romania is the most convenient Romanian border crossing for international land traffic. Crossings by car at some other Moldovan-Romanian border posts are possible but are less convenient. A traveler should expect possible delays at immigration and customs going in both directions at the Albita-Leuseni crossing.

Travelers in cars should expect to be occasionally waved over by local police for routine inspections. Travelers driving by car into the Eastern region of the country Transnistria should expect to be stopped by Russian "Peacekeepers" and then by Transnistria border guards at the outskirts of Tighina (Bender) and when crossing over to the left bank driving toward Tiraspol. Depending upon where a traveler is driving in or around Transnistria, a car may be stopped by Transnistrian authorities, Russian forces, Moldovan police, or joint patrols consisting of two or three of the above. Discipline of forces in the security zone and at internal checkpoints in Transnistria is problematic at night. The city of Tighina (Bender) is in the security zone.

International rail connections are possible from Bucharest, Moscow, and Kiev. However, staff who have used these routes have not reported favorably about the experience. Some travelers have been victims of theft. Carefully check routes and train changes (if any) before boarding.

Bring plenty of food and snacks when traveling by car or train in Eastern Europe.

Personal airfreight is sometimes slow in arriving, even from points in Western Europe or the U.S. (make allowance for at least 3 weeks). Bring as much as you can in your accompanied baggage, especially seasonal clothing, toiletries, and any special medications.

Air Moldova will charge for hand baggage over 20 kilograms. If so, be sure to get a receipt. Have cases no larger than 28 inches (71 centimeters) high by 55 inches (140 centimeters) long by 43 inches (109 centimeters) wide. Larger cases will not fit into the cargo holds of some Air Moldova planes.

Immunization records are not routinely checked. Have an international license plate issued by the country of sale for new cars purchased in Europe. No special regulations restrict incoming baggage: use common sense, as incoming baggage may be X-rayed at the airport and a suspicious-looking item could cause problems.

Visas are required of American citizens traveling to (or transiting) Moldova. All visas must be obtained in advance of arrival from a Moldovan Embassy or Consulate. Only those U.S. citizens who can provide evidence that they reside in a country in which Moldova has no Embassy or Consulate are permitted to obtain a tourist/business visa at the Chisinau airport. No invitation is necessary. Any person applying for a visa for a stay of more than three months must present a certificate showing that the individual is HIV negative. Only tests performed at designated clinics in Moldova are accepted. For more information on entry requirements, please contact the Moldovan Embassy, 2101 S. Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone: (202) 667-1130, (202) 667-1131, or (202) 667-1137, fax: (202) 667-1204, e-mail: [email protected].

All foreign citizens staying in Moldova for more three days or longer are required to register with local authorities at the Office of Visas and Registration. The place of registration (usually, a district police station) depends on where a visitor is staying in Moldova. Most hotels will register guests automatically. The Embassy encourages U.S. citizens to ask about registration when checking into a hotel. U.S. citizens not staying in a hotel are responsible for registering with authorities. To find out exactly where to register, a U.S. citizen may call the central Office for Visas and Registration at (373) (2) 21-30-78, and be prepared to give the address of the residence in Moldova. Under Moldovan law, those who fail to register with authorities may be required to appear in court and pay a fine. For more information on registering with Moldovan authorities, U.S. citizens are encouraged to call the Consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau (373) (2) 40-83-00.

Americans living in or visiting Moldova are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau and obtain updated information on travel and security within Moldova. The U.S. Embassy is located in Chisinau, Moldova, Strada Alexei Mateevici 103; telephone (373)(2) 23-37-72, after-hours telephone (373)(2) 23-73-45.

Pets

No regulations restrict importing cats and dogs. Before arrival, pet owners should ensure that their pets are properly immunized and that they have immunization records (primarily rabies vaccine) and health certificate records, certified by a public health authority in the sending country. The health certificate should have been issued within 1 week prior to the animal's departure. Bring or ship any special needs such as worm medicine or particular food. Properly documented animals are cleared quickly through customs. Be sure all pet records are completely up-to-date before arrival.

Since local veterinarians do not always have vaccines, make sure your pet has all needed shots before you come. If you anticipate a need for particular medicines, ship a supply or make arrangements with a veterinarian to send additional supplies.

Chisinau has a large number of homeless cats and dogs that live on the streets. Pets (especially dogs) should only be allowed out of the homes when accompanied Another danger to domestic animals may be from rodent-control poison, which car be set out without notice around garbage areas, resulting in reports of accidents and poisoning.

Firearms and Ammunition

There is one hunting club in Moldova. Presently membership in this club is required of anyone who wishes to purchase a rifle.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

Since November 1993, the Moldovan currency has been the leu (plural, lei, fractions, bani). It is convertible on the current account, and trades at a market rate against any other market currency, though it is not a "hard" currency. Bank transfers can be made into Moldova and bank accounts in hard currency can be opened, but checking accounts are virtually unknown and personal checks are essentially non-negotiable. Traveler, checks are accepted by at least one bank, but commissions for cashing them for hard currencies are high (for lei transactions, the normal commission is 2%) Credit cards are only slowly becoming accepted for purchases, so that Moldova remains largely a cash economy. This is in transition, and some ATMs have ever come on-line. By law, all payments it Moldova must be made in lei, not in dollars.

Moldovan currency regulations stipulate that an incoming traveler may bring in any amount of foreign currency or travelers checks, but amounts must be stated in a declaration and a currency exchange declaration form (a loose piece of paper) is placed in the passport. Travelers should ensure this paper remains in the passport until departure from Moldova. When leaving Moldova, the traveler must show the same currency and checks as upon entry, or list any amount named in a certificate of exchange from the Moldovan National Bank. Moldovan authorities enforce this rule unpredictably. Moldovan authorities prohibit the import or export of Moldovan lei.

Moldova is on the metric system.

Crime

Crime is a growing problem in Moldova and especially in the larger cities. The violent crime rate has been relatively low but is a growing threat to foreigners. Car theft is a problem. Travel by car and in a group is relatively safe at night, but visitors are advised not to walk alone far from public places after dark.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 7 Christmas (Orthodox)

Mar. 8International Women's Day

Apr/May.Easter*

Apr/May.Easter Monday*

May 1Labor Day

May 9Victory Day

Aug. 27National Day

Aug. 31Our Language

*variable

RECOMMENDED READING

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published in this country.

Dima, Nicolae. From Moldavia to Moldova.

Fonseca, Isabel. Bury Me Standing: the Gypsies and Their Journey. New York: Vintage Press, 1995.

Goma, Paul. My Childhood at the Gates of Unrest. Columbia, La.: Readers International, Inc., 1990.

Horton, Nancy. Chisinau, Moldova: The Essential Guide. Chisinau: Lonely Peasant Publications, 1999.

King, Charles. The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1999

Sugar, Pete S. Southeastern Europe Under Ottoman Rule, 1354-1804. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1977.

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Moldova

Moldova

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Moldova
Region: Europe
Population: 4,430,654
Language(s): Moldovan, Russian, Gagauz
Literacy Rate: 96%
Compulsory Schooling: 11 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 1,0.6%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 1,187
Libraries: 3,200
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 320,725
  Secondary: 445,501
  Higher: 93,759
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 97%
  Secondary: 80%
Teachers: Primary: 14,097
  Secondary: 28,615
  Higher: 8,814
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 23:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 97%
  Secondary: 82%



History & Background

Moldova is a small landlocked southeast European country of 33,843 square kilometers located between Romania in the west and the Ukraine in the east. It was a part of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) but declared independence in 1991 and became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In the year 2000, Moldova had a population of over 4 million people, with 23 percent of its population 14 years or younger. The population growth rate was zero, implying a completely stable population. The life expectancy at birth was 64 years. It was among the fifteenth most densely populated nations in Europe with 128 people residing per square kilometer. Administratively, the country is organized into 10 judete (divisions), 1 municipality, the capital Chisinau, and 1 territorial unit, Gagauzia.

Moldova's economy is predominantly agricultural-based with a highly fertile land of which 53 percent is arable. Fifty-three percent of the country's population lives in rural areas. Of the urban population, 60 percent is concentrated in the capital city of Chisinau. However, the country has no mineral deposits and imports most of its fuel from abroad. As a result, Moldova is classified as a low-income group country with approximately three-fourths of the population living below the poverty line.

Moldova, for a large part of its recorded history, has been dominated by other cultures. In ancient times it was an outpost of the Roman Empire. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, an influx of Slavic and Vlach continued in the region until the formation of Basarabia in the 1400s. It narrowly escaped becoming a pashalik (Turkish province) under the Ottoman Empire in the fifteenth century. However, the Ottoman influence continued in the region until 1739 when it briefly came under Russian military occupation. After the Russo-Turkish War (1806-1812), Russia annexed the region. Russian rule was interrupted by its defeat in the Crimean War (1853-1856). At that time, the principalities of Moldova and Wallachia became independent and united to form Romania in 1862. However, this unification did not last long, and, after the Russo-Turkish-Romanian war in 1878, Russia regained southern Bessarabia. The Russian imperialism continued until the end of World War I (1914-1918) when Russia briefly lost control. A provisional self-government, Sfatul Tarii, with a majority of native Moldavians emerged and voted for union with Romania. This union had the blessings of the western powers, but was not recognized by the USSR. Stalin established a largely artificial Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (MASSR) on the east bank of the Nistru (Dniester) River in the Ukraine. Before the beginning of World War II (1939), under the Russian-German Pact, Moldova once again came under Russian control and Chisinau (Russian Kishinev) became the capital. Germany attacked the Soviets in 1941 and captured Moldova until 1944 when Russians again reclaimed the region.

After World War II, the Russification of Moldova began full scale when private property was abolished, collective farms were established, and a large number of people were deported to Siberia. As a result, the native population became bilingual, speaking both Russian and Romanian. In the 1970s the region was the "bread-basket" of the USSR with its agricultural boom. It was the smallest republic of the old USSR with less than 0.2 percent of the land, but ranked sixth in its agricultural production. However, the undercurrents against the Russification were present throughout the period and gained momentum in 1980s with the introduction of openness and the rebuilding of socio-economic policies by Mikhail Gorbachev. A new political group, the Moldavian Popular Front, demanded self-rule and free elections. At the same time, the USSR was in turmoil, and Gorbachev, surviving a failed coup, declared the dissolution of USSR into the CIS. On August 27, 1991, Moldova became independent with Mircea Snegur as president. It adopted its first constitution in 1994. In 1995 Moldova was admitted to the Council of Europe and ratified its Convention on the Protection of Ethnic Minorities the next year. In 1996, in the first multi-candidate presidential elections, Petru Lucinschi, a member of the Communist Party of Moldova, became the President. Present day Moldova is an ethnically diverse country with about 64 percent ethnic Romanians, 13 percent ethnic Russians, 14 percent ethnic Ukrainians, 3 percent Gagauz (or Turks who migrated in eighteenth century and adopted Christianity), 2 percent Jews, 2 percent Bulgarian, and 2 percent Belarussians and Gypsies. Furthermore, at the advent of twenty-first century, Moldova was reeling under foreign debt and the economy was in disarray with the quality of living at its lowest ebb. In 1999, the debt was 1,572 million lei, and the costs for servicing that loan were as high as 11 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP.)

The historical evolution of Moldova had important implications in the shaping of its educational system. At the beginning of the twentieth century, a large majority of the population was illiterate, and Romanian was the language spoken by the majority. Under Soviet rule, Russian was emphasized and became the official language. The USSR's education policies made education available to all citizens. However, Russian and Ukrainian ethnic students were given preference in higher education, and laws were passed to suppress Romanian culture. In the 1980s the growing nationalist movement led to the establishment of a literary debating society named after Moldovan poet Alexie Mateevici. This started an intellectual movement to restore the national culture and led to the development of the Moldovan language that reverted to the use of the Latin alphabet instead of the Cyrillic script. Since 1989, Moldovan has been the official language of instruction. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the country, undergoing serious economic crises, was poised toward privatization of education. This occurred primarily in the higher education sector, and Moldova struggled to maintain the benefits accrued from high levels of literacy.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Moldova is a democratic republic. The new constitution was ratified in 1994. The President is the head of the state and is elected every four years with a maximum of two consecutive terms. The unicameral Parliament is the supreme legislative body with 104 deputies elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. The judiciary branch of the government is headed by the Supreme Court and includes the Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court. There are also Higher Magistrate's Council, Tribunals, and Courts at the local levels.

In 1995, Moldova's Parliament approved the Policy and Law on Education. This policy is the conceptual and legal framework of the educational system and is in consonance with Moldova's constitution, international documents on human rights, rights of children, and contemporary educational theories. A 10-year National Education Program for the period 1995-2005 was approved in 1995. The country is committed to free and universal education. Basic education in Moldova is compulsory for 10 years. After that, a student can pursue technical school or further study leading to higher education. The education system prior to 1991 was largely shaped by Soviet policies but, after its independence, Moldova has leaned more toward the Romanian system of education and greater privatization, especially of higher education based on Western Models. Textbooks and curricula have been donated by Romania to build the education system in schools separate from the old Russian model.


Educational SystemOverview

The education system in Moldova consists of preschool, primary, secondary and higher education. The preschool education is for children up to the age of seven years. The primary education is between grades one through four and typically involves children between the ages of 8-12. The secondary education consists of two tracks: general and vocational. General secondary education from grades 5-9 is called the gymnasium, and grades 10-12 is called liceul (lyceum). The vocational track is called the professional liceul. Higher education consists of two stages, short-term college education and university education. These institutions were traditionally awarding Diplomas but, in the year 2000, were also using the titles of Bachelor and Master to conform to international standards.

The language of instruction under the Soviet rule was Russian. However, since 1989, Moldovan was adopted as the official language and in the year 2000, nearly two-thirds of all pupils were studying in schools where Moldovan was the language of instruction. However, schools serving the needs of minorities and schools with Russian, Gagauzian, Ukrainian, and Bulgarian as the language of instruction are also present. Students of other nationalities (Jewish, Polish, and German) have the opportunity to study these as a separate subject. Nonetheless, state policy emphasizes that all citizens should study Moldovan. Since its independence the Moldovan government has also added substantial courses in Romanian literature and history to the curriculum. Strong ties have been established between the education systems in Romania and Moldova. Throughout the 1990s Romania extensively donated textbooks to replace books from the Soviet era. At the university level, change is coming slowly and Russian still remains the predominant language of instruction. The academic year starts on September 1 and continues until June with a winter break in December and January.

In 1994, there were 2,062 preschools with an enrollment of 223,300 students and 20,100 preschool teachers. In 1994, there were 1,692 primary and secondary schools with 731,000 students and 50,300 teachers. The number of colleges was 62 with an enrollment of 43,800 students. The higher education institutions were 18 in number and enrolled 55,200 students. In addition, there were 87 vocational institutions with 39,800 students.

Since the late 1990s, private education as an alternative to state education has also begun in Moldova. The institutions follow the regulations established by the Ministry of Education and Science. In 2001, there were 137 private institutions with 20 universities, 9 short-term colleges, 14 pre and primary schools, 12 gymnasiums and lyceums, and 82 schools of trade. In 2001, there were 19,800 students in these institutions. There is a growing emphasis in promoting the private sector for meeting the educational needs of the country. This is evident from several governmental policies. In December 1999, the Government proposed an Action Program that prioritized the agenda in the educational sector as improving the hierarchical-organizational and institutional structure of professional and higher education system; developing the private sector and accrediting private educational institutions; developing and widely using national education standards; upgrading the qualifications and training level of experts within educational institutions; and orienting public funds towards improvement of preprimary, primary, secondary, and vocational education.


Preprimary & Primary Education

The preschool education as defined by The Law on Education (Article 17) begins at age three and continues until age six or seven. The law allows for a guarantee of the education of preschoolers in nurseries and kindergartens through provision of material and financial support. However, the Ministry of Education and Science has noted that since 1993 there has been a decline in preschool education and has called this a phenomenon of "kindergarten depopulation." For example, in 1993 there were 1,877 kindergartens with 202,300 children enrolled, that declined in 1995 to 1,668 kindergartens with 161,200 children, and further to 1,581 kindergartens with 147,300 children in 1997, despite no significant change in demographic composition of the population. According to UNESCO statistics, in 1996 there were a total of 133,426 students in preprimary schools, of which 62,719 were females. Nearly 22,415 pupils were in the private preprimary schools. The gross preprimary enrollment ratio was estimated to be as low as 45 percent. The reasons for this decline included the closure of preschools by local authorities that could not sustain the financial costs to run these institutions. No significant differences in enrollment of male and female children have been found. Foreign bilateral and multilateral agencies have been supporting special projects in this area such as the Program of Early Individual Education (PETI) by UNICEF. In addition, the private sector has also started some preschools, but mostly in the urban areas, catering to the more affluent sections of the population. In 1996, the teacher-pupil ratio was one per seven pupils at the preprimary level. In 1996, all preprimary teachers were females.

The primary education includes grades 1-4 and typically involves children between the ages of 8-12. According to the Law on Education, "primary education contributes to children's formation as a free and creative personality, to the development of intellectual capacities, of strong reading, writing, and calculating skills, providing the development of communicating skills and the abilities of expression in a foreign language." Since the law mandates education, and schooling is mandatory at age seven, primary enrollment rates remain high when compared to other low-income countries. According to UNESCO statistics, in 1996, the intake in primary schools was 98 percent of all children in the age group. There were 320,725 children in primary schools of which 156,417 were females. The number of students in first grade were 81,067; in second grade 80,437; in third grade 79,709; and in fourth grade 79,512. The number of repeaters was very small with a total of 3,726 (1.2 percent) of which 1,736 (2 percent) were in the first grade; 1,721 (2 percent) were in the second grade; 617 (0.8 percent) were in the third grade; and 652 (0.8 percent) were in the fourth grade. According to UNICEF, in 1999 the gross primary enrollment ratio for males was 96 percent and 95 percent for females. A UNDP Report noted that in 1995, there were only 3,989 (0.7 percent) of all school aged children who were not in the primary school. Family poverty was the main reason for this non-attendance.

The teacher-pupil ratio at the primary level was 1 teacher per 23 students. A large majority of primary teachers were females (97 percent). The curriculum in primary grades emphasizes skills in reading, writing, and math. Two-thirds of all primary schools offer these skills through Moldovan while also teaching additional languages, such as Russian. Some primary schools also offer groups with prolonged programs extending into the afternoons. The examinations that determine passage or failure are held yearly at the school level.


Secondary Education

The secondary education consists of two tracks: general and vocational. General secondary education from grades 5-9 is called the gymnasium level. The gymnasium level accepts all primary school students without any competition. The emphasis of this level is to prepare the students for liceul or professional education. The level ends with final examinations in several subjects conducted by the Ministry. At completion of this level, the Gymnasium Studies Certificate is awarded.

The grades 10-12 (three years) are called the liceul level. The vocational track is called the professional liceul and may in some cases have three to five years of training. Admission to the tracks is decided through competition based on guidelines stipulated by the Ministry. Graduates from lyceum are awarded a Diploma of Baccalaureate. In cases of failure, the examinations can be taken at least two more times within the next three years.

According to UNESCO statistics, in 1996, there were a total of 445,501 students in the secondary school system of which 223,162 (50 percent) were females and 419,256 (94 percent) were in the general secondary track. In 2000, there were 79 professional vocational education units of which 17 were trade schools. About 33,000 students were studying in professional tracks.


Higher Education


At the tertiary level, colleges provide short-term higher education typically for two to three years. Universities provide education that lasts for four to six years to meet long-term needs. During the Soviet era, preference for higher education was given to Russian and Ukrainian students. In 1940, there were only 10 students per 10,000 people in Moldova. This had increased to 170 per 10,000 in the year 2000, with a growing representation of ethnic Romanians. According to 1996 UNESCO statistics, 93,759 students were enrolled in tertiary education of which 51,411 students were females. Of these students, 38,295 were in social sciences, 30,074 were in natural sciences, 9,181 were in medical sciences, 8,375 were in education (including religion and theology), 4,377 were in humanities, and 3,457 were classified as others. In 1996, 13,249 students graduated from the tertiary level.

In the year 2000, there were 53 colleges. Out of these 53 colleges, 48 were state governed and 5 were private. According to their area of specialty, 9 colleges were pedagogical, 10 were agrarian, 6 were medical, 5 were art and music, 9 were economics and law, 8 were technical, 2 were technological, 2 were military, 1 was ecological, and 1 was foreign language. At the university level, there were 28 institutions. Of these, 13 were state owned and 15 were private. About two-thirds of the students in the tertiary level were being supported by the state, and only one-third were paying for their studies.

Post university or doctoral and postdoctoral education in Moldova is also available for graduates from higher education. The admission is competitive and based on criteria established by the state attestation commission and the agreement with Academies. In the public sector, three Academies have been established. The Academy of Sciences is the oldest and was founded in 1961 in Moldova. In the year 2000, it had six sections: Physical-Mathematical, Biological and Chemical, Humanities and Social, Agricultural, Medical, and Technical. With a shift to the market economy and greater demand for professionals in economics and management, Moldova started the Academy of Economic Sciences in 1991. The academy had the following faculties: Management, Marketing, Accounting, Finance, International Economic Relations, Cybernetics, Economic Statistics, and Informatics. In 1999, there were 8,435 students enrolled in the Academy of Economic Sciences and there were 547 faculty members working in its 23 Departments. In 1999, eight years since its inception, 8,716 students had graduated from the Academy of Economic Sciences. The third Academy in Moldova is the Academy of Public Administration. The Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.), which culminates with a thesis defense, is awarded after post university education. The Doctorate of Science (D.Sc.) is conferred after two years of postdoctoral research work and attestation by a State Commission.

Higher education for graduates in professional positions is also available. The only public institution for higher technical education in the country is the Technical University of Moldova (TUM). At TUM, the education is offered in 58 branches of engineering, with 95 options, and undergraduate education is for a minimum four years. At the completion of undergraduate education, the Diploma of Licentiate Engineer is awarded. At the graduate level, TUM also awards a master's degree, a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.), and a Doctorate of Science (D.Sc. or postdoctoral degree). In 2001, TUM consisted of 9 faculties, 13 colleges, and had an enrollment of close to 10,000 students. The university had 750 faculty members with 4 serving as members of the Academy of Sciences (considered as the most prestigious recognition), 45 professors with Doctor of Science degrees, 400 associate professors with Doctor of Philosophy degrees, and 195 lecturers with minimum masters' level training.

An internationally respected trade institution of its own kind in Moldova is the College of Wine Culture. The College was established around 1850 and draws students from all over Eastern Europe and other parts of the world; it graduates about 300 wine experts every year.

In 2000, according to the Department of Statistics and Sociology in Moldova, only one in eight who completed higher education got a job. At the beginning of 2001, more than 75,000 students were registered for higher education in Moldova, a large number on part-time basis. Law and Economics were the most prestigious specialties in 2000.

Students pursuing higher education also seek opportunities to study abroad. Romania is the most popular destination for pursuing higher education because of proximity, language, and similarity in culture. Several exchange programs with universities in Romania have been established. The United States and countries in Europe are also popular places for seeking higher education by students. As reported in the media, the selection procedures for awarding these exchange scholarships are often a source of contention between politicians and academicians with each wanting greater role in selection and blaming the other for corruption.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research


In 2001, the Ministry of Education and Science was the governmental division looking after the education sector. In 2001, the Ministry was headed by a Minister and four Vice Ministers, with each being responsible for a division of the Ministry. The four divisions under the vice-ministers are the Department of General Secondary Education, the Department of Vocational Education, the Youth and Sport Department, and the Higher Education Department. In addition, the Minister looks after the fifth division called the Department of Prognosis, Resources, and Funding and that is responsible for statistics, prognostication, administrative organization, direction of didactic personnel, attestation, personnel management, international relations, and interstate exchange education.

The Department of General Secondary Education is responsible for directing preprimary and primary education, general secondary education, language, didactic supply, libraries, quality assessment, and documentation. The Department of Vocational Education is responsible for the direction of projecting and assessment of vocational education, coordination of professional lyceums, and special education. The Youth and Sport Department provides direction to youth and sport activities. The Higher Education Department is responsible for the main direction of university studies, accreditation, and authorization. It is also responsible for continuing education of didactic personnel (educators). The Higher Education Department is further comprised of four institutions. The first is the Faculties of Institutions of Higher Education (FIHE) that oversees the training of education administrators at the "Ion Creanga" State Pedagogical State University of Moldova. The second is The National Institute of Physical Education and Sport (NIPES) that trains sport coaches. The third is The National Institute of Continuing Education (NICE) that trains personnel from private institutions, looks after bilateral agreements for training abroad, looks after the training needs of the Ministry personnel, and conducts various refresher courses. And the fourth is The Division of Teacher Training and Post University Centers.

Financing of the education sector in the new republic has been a constant struggle. In 2001, government funding ensured only basic functioning of educational establishments. No funding was allocated for construction or for teaching aids. In 1995, of the 93 book titles to be published, only 14 were issued. In 1999, the consolidated budget expenditure on education was 614 million lei. In 1990, the public expenditure on education as a percentage of total government expenditure was 17 percent, and in 1996 this was 28 percent. According to UNESCO statistics, in 1996, teachers' emoluments as a percentage of total education expenditure accounted for 71 percent. The percentage expenditure by level revealed spending as 25 percent on preprimary and primary levels, 53 percent on secondary levels, and 13 percent on tertiary levels. In 1996, expenditure per pupil as a percentage of GNP per capita was 24 percent for preprimary and primary school, 53 percent for secondary schools, and 64 percent for tertiary level schools.

Nonformal Education

Since the country has enjoyed very high levels of literacy as a byproduct of being a part of the former USSR, at present, there is no need for having formalized adult education sector. Furthermore, in independent Moldova, the 1995 Policy and Law on Education mandates that education and primary education rates continue to be near universal; adult education does not seem to be needed in the near future.

Another sector within the educational system is the education of children with special needs. In 2000, according to the Ministry of Education and Science, for children with special needs there were 9 institutions at the preprimary level and 64 at the primary level. In addition there were 32 auxiliary schools for children with mental deficiencies with an enrollment of 4,300 students. For children with physical deficiencies, there were 14 specialized schools enrolling 2,000 such students. There was one school for the visually impaired, which enrolled about 100 students. For children with speech deficiencies, there were 120 specialized centers enrolling 4,000 children. In addition, several speech therapy institutions have also been created in Moldova.

In the area of fine arts, Moldova also has 116 artistic schools, of which 10 are directly under the Ministry of Culture, and 106 are operated through Territorial Departments of Culture. Of the 10 institutions under the Ministry of Culture, 5 are music institutions, 1 is a choreography institution, 2 are fine art institutions, and 1 is a popular arts and general artistic activity institution.

The primary mode of distance education in Moldova was through correspondence courses offered through the Academies and the National Institute of Continuing Education (NICE). A person could even complete a doctoral thesis via correspondence study. As of 2000, Internet based online computer-mediated courses were nonexistent in Moldova. However, the Internet was gaining prominence in Chisinau, the main city and capital of Moldova. Perhaps in future years, online courses will be offered, especially at higher education levels.


Teaching Profession

According to UNESCO statistics, in 1996 there were a total of 18,395 preprimary teachers (all females), 14,097 primary teachers (of which 13,731 were females), 28,615 secondary teachers (of which 20,832 were females), and 8,814 tertiary level teachers (of which 3,928 were females). In 1990 there were 61 teachers at all levels per 1,000 people of the nonagricultural labor force. This ratio was down to 44 per 1,000 in 1996.

All teachers must complete further training in pedagogy through the "Ion Creanga" State Pedagogical State University of Moldova or its affiliates. The continuing education of the teachers is undertaken by the Division of Teacher Training within the Ministry of Education and Science. The Division of Teacher Training has four centers. These are the Center for training and qualifying technical instructors at The Technical University of Moldova, the Center for New Information Technologies at the Ministry, the Center for Training and Economic Assistance at The Academy of Economic Sciences, and the Center of Post University Studies at the University of Moldova.

In 2000, teachers were struggling with receiving salaries regularly and it was the norm for the salaries to be delayed by a few months. Strikes among teachers, once nonexistent, are becoming more common. For example, in March 2000 every Moldovan public school went on a strike. Teachers have formed unions and associations.


Summary

At the advent of the twenty-first century, Moldova has put aside the Russian dominance in its education and is working to establish the education system in native Moldovan as distinct from Russian and somewhat different from, but still similar to, the Romanian model. The primary education and literacy rates continue to be impressive for a newly formed country. However, Moldova has been undergoing a serious economic crisis throughout the 1990s that has been adversely affecting the educational sector. Compounding this problem are issues of unemployment, bureaucratic corruption, energy crises (especially in winter, which leads to school closures), foreign debt, inability to attract foreign investment, growing number of strikes among teachers due to delayed salaries and lack of increase in emoluments, and erosion of values. Moldova is struggling to maintain the high literacy levels inherited from the Soviet era. The emphasis in modern Moldova is to establish a greater base of qualified professionals at international standards who are well versed in market economy and managerial sciences. Moldova is looking more and more toward the private sector to deliver some of these goods. It is still uncertain how much success it will get in this direction through these measures.

Education in Moldova has received and continues to receive liberal assistance in "content" and "process" from Romania. Furthermore, the educational system in Moldova has been receiving financial help from World Bank. In 1998, the World Bank initiated a General Education Project to support the introduction of new general education standards, to develop tests and implement new curricula, to purchase teaching materials and textbooks, and to update teaching methodology and teacher training. The total budget for this project was US$20 million. How much this foreign aid will impact the already weakened economy and aid in strengthening the education sector remains to be seen.


Bibliography

Brezinau, Andrei. Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Moldova. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2000.


Central Intelligence Agency. Moldova in The World Factbook 2000. Washington, DC: CIA, 1999. Available from http://www.odci.gov/.

Fedor, Helen, ed. Moldova Country Study. Washington, DC: Federal Research Division. Library of Congress, 1996.

King, Charles. The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture (Studies of Nationalities). Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 2000.

Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000. Moldova, 2000. Available from http://encarta.msn.com.


Technical University of Moldova. Informational Web-Pages, 2000. Available from http://www.utm.md.


United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Moldova. New York, 2000. Available from http://www.unicef.org.

. State of the World's Children 2000. New York: 2000.

United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Republic of Moldova Human Development Report, 1996. Available from http://www.undp.org/.

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Annual Statistical Yearbook 1999. Paris: UNESCO Publishing Office, 1999.

World Bank Group. "Moldova at a glance." World Development Indicators 1999. Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2000. Available from http://www.worldbank.org/.


Manoj Sharma

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Moldova

MOLDOVA

Republic of Moldova

Republica Moldoveneasca

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

Located in southeastern Europe and bordered on the west by Romania and on all other sides by Ukraine, landlocked Moldova has an area of 33,843 square kilometers (13,067 square miles), making it slightly larger than Maryland. Moldova's border totals 1,389 kilometers (864 miles). The capital, Chişina˘u, is situated in its central part.

The portion of the country that lays east of the Nistru River is known as the Transnistria. Populated primarily by Slavs and economically and culturally oriented toward the Ukraine, the Transnistria has been in revolt against the Moldovan majority in the country (see below).

POPULATION.

The population of Moldova was 4,430,654 in 2000 and its average density was 129.1 inhabitants per square kilometer (334 per square mile) in 1994. In 2000, the birth rate was 12.86 per 1,000 population, while the death rate equaled 12.58 per 1,000. With a net migration rate of-0.31 per 1,000 and a fertility rate of 1.63 children born per woman, the population growth rate was about zero in 2000. Over the 1990s, the population declined because of net economic emigration .

Moldova's population is youthful by European standards, with 23 percent below the age of 14 and 10 percent older than 65. Ethnic Moldovans (Romanians) account for 64.5 percent of the population, Ukrainians for 13.8 percent, Russians for 13 percent, Gagauz (a Turkic-speaking people of Christian faith) for 3.5 percent, Bulgarians for 2 percent, Jews for 1.5 percent, and other groups for 1.7 percent, according to 1989 estimates. In the early 1990s, interethnic violence occurred between the Moldovans and the Slavic majority in the Transnistria region (east of the Nistru [Dniester] River, with a population of 750,000) and the Gagauz in the country's south. The official language is Moldovan (Romanian) but Russian is widely spoken and is the second official language in Transnistria. About 98.5 percent of the population belong to the Orthodox Church. Moldova is predominantly rural, with about 54 percent of the population living mostly in large villages in 1999. The population in the capital of Chişina˘u was 667,000 in 1992; other major cities include Tiraspol and Tighina (Bender) in the east, and Balti in the north.

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

Moldova is among Europe's poorest countries. Before Moldova gained its independence from the USSR in 1991, the Soviet regime developed some of Moldova's industries, but Moldova's favorable climate, rich farmland, and lack of mineral resources defined its role as the USSR's primary supplier of fruits, vegetables, wine, tobacco, and processed foods. Soviet planners forced Moldova to develop those economic sectors, and Moldova imported its oil, coal, and natural gas from other USSR republics. The loss of Soviet markets and cheap energy sources with independence in 1991 caused a steep economic decline, energy shortages, and unemployment. Interethnic war, the Russian crisis of 1998, the problems of Ukraine and Romania (which, with Russia, receive 70 percent of Moldova's exports), and record droughts combined for the sharpest gross domestic product (GDP) decline seen in a former Soviet republic; in 1998, the economy reached only 33 percent of its size in 1989. By 1999, GDP was $2,033 per capita.

Since independence, Moldova has followed a path toward reform, introducing a convertible currency, freeing prices from state control, ending subsidies for state-owned enterprises, privatizing the formerly collectivized farmland, removing export controls, and freeing bank interest rates with assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. (Taken together, these corrections are called structural reform because they change the structure of the economy.) Mass privatization in 1994 transferred to the private sector 1,142 large and medium and 1,093 small enterprises. Cash privatizations were less successful; tenders for the Moldtelecom (the telephone company) in 1998 and the tobacco firm Tutun in 1996 were canceled, and other privatization deals were disappointing. In 1997 and 1998, 223 enterprises were sold at auctions, generating $4.45 million; foreign direct investment reached $7.6 million.

The country's external debt was estimated at $1.3 billion (December 1999) and posed a major challenge to the economy. The country handed 50 percent of its gas pipelines to Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom, its biggest creditor (Moldova owes it $320 million and Transnistria another $400 million). The country is dependent on economic aid, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have granted $547 million between 1992 and 1999.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

Independent since 1991, Moldova is a republic with a multiparty system. Moldova's unicameral parliament is elected by universal suffrage. In February 2001, the Communist Party of Moldova (CPM) won 71 of the 101 seats, the formerly ruling centrist Alliance got 19 seats, and the right-wing nationalist Christian Democratic Popular Party (CDPP) won 11 seats. Popularly-elected President Vladimir Voronin of the CPM appointed a cabinet led by independent ethnic Bulgarian Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev. The CPM has generally opposed privatization and independence for Transnistria, and advocated reorientation towards Russia, but it is highly unlikely that market reforms will be reversed. With its absolute majority in parliament, the CPM will be able to pursue reform without distraction. It is expected that poorer voters will more readily accept austerity policies if they come from a leftist administration such as the CPM. The CPM retained key ministers from the previous reformist cabinet to stress continuity and it maintains rigorous inflation and budget targets, but it focuses on restoring industrial and agricultural output through policies that may antagonize the IMF. Also on the CPM agenda are reforming the public pension system by linking contributions to benefits and raising the retirement age; restructuring the public health care system by partially privatizing health services; and reforming the social assistance system. The IMF expressed satisfaction with its stabilization and privatization plans.

The Democratic Convention (DCM) is a right-of-center, pro-Western bloc, and the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) is a centrist group that developed from the older Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova, the Popular Democratic Party, the New Forces, and the National Youth League. There are also a variety of small and relatively insignificant parties.

The government's role in the economy is large but declining as the size of the private sector has grown considerably over the 1990s. In 1999, an estimated 60 percent of the economy was in the private sector. Industries were more than 60 percent private, agriculture 86 percent private, retail and services 70 percent, and construction and transport almost 44 percent. The private sector accounted for 45 percent of GDP in 1999. The tax system is considered business-unfriendly, particularly with the introduction in 1998 of value-added tax (VAT) of 20 percent on imported goods and services, and of excise taxes in 1992. The business environment, legal framework, regulation, licensing, inspection, investment climate, access to bank credits, and business infrastructure have been deemed unfavorable to western investment.

Moldova has faced 2 major political conflicts since gaining independence in 1991. The most pressing of these conflicts was in the Transnistria region. The Transnistria region is a narrow strip of land laying east of the Nistru River (also known as the Dniester or Dniestr River). More heavily industrialized than the rest of Moldova, and populated primarily by Slavs, the region identifies itself more closely with Ukraine than with Moldova and has sought independence. Russian forces remained east of the Nistru River after 1991, supporting the self-proclaimed Transnistria Republic, which the government in Chişina˘u has not recognized. Russia and Ukraine are acting as mediators between Chişina˘u and Transnistria; the parties have observed a cease-fire since 1992, but progress to a settlement on the status of Transnistria has been slow. The region is still used for tax and customs evasions. The government in 2001 seems more willing to accept a Russian presence in return for greater pressure on Transnistria to discard sovereignty claims. Russia's influence will likely be acknowledged, and chances of political and economic union with Russia and Belarus may grow. Less pressing is the conflict in Gagauzia, a small region in the south of the country that is populated primarily by a Christian Turkic minority known as the Gagauz. Gagauzia has been granted a great deal of autonomy, including the right to control the privatization of assets in the region and the right to determine trade relations.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

Moldova is landlocked and depends on railroad and road networks for trade. Soviet-built railroads are of decent quality and comprise 1,318 kilometers (824 miles) of tracks; 10,531 kilometers (6,582 miles) of roads account for most local transport and 80 percent of passenger travel. The major riversthe Nistru (Dniester) and the Prutare used for local transport. In 1995, the government established Terminal S.A., a joint Moldovan-Greek venture to build and maintain an oil terminal in Giurgiulesti on the Danube with the assistance of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The country is served also by pipelines for natural gas from Russia (310 kilometers, or 192 miles, in 1992). Air traffic is served by the state-owned carrier, Air Moldova, and by 2 smaller airlines.

Moldova's electricity production was 5.661 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 1998, 93 percent of which were generated in thermal plants and 7 percent in hydropower facilities. The country imported 1.8 billion kWh in 1998. Domestic sources account for 2 percent of primary energy supply, and gas accounts for 61 percent of the imports, oil for 20 percent, and coal for 10 percent. A large gas power plant in Transnistria produces 85 percent of the electricity. Moldova remains reliant on Russian gas, and Gazprom periodically cuts off supplies due to chronic non-payment, as do Romania, Ukraine, and Transnistria for unpaid electricity. Mounting bills result from non-payment by consumers, electricity theft, and wastage. The sector has been restructured into 2 generators and 5 distributor companies, and in 2000, Moldova completed

Communications
Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Moldova 60 740 297 17.6 2 0.2 6.4 2.42 25
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Russia 105 418 420 78.5 5 0.4 40.6 13.06 2,700
Romania 300 319 233 119.2 29 N/A 10.2 9.01 600
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium (http://www.isc.org) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

the first round of electricity privatization, selling 3 of the distributors to Union Fenosa of Spain.

Moldova has an antiquated telephone system with 15 lines per 100 inhabitants in 1997, very few pay phones, many villages without service, and a mobile phone penetration rate of just 0.3 percent in 1998. Moldtelecom, the national telecom, is currently upgrading and has signed agreements with Denmark's Great Northern Telegraph (GNT), which is investing $10 million in a digital switch system and fiber-optic technology. The government intends to sell 51 percent of Moldtelecom following a failed attempt at privatization in 1998 to a Greek company. In 1998, Voxtel, a consortium comprising 1 French, 1 Romanian, and 2 Moldovan companies, launched mobile service in the GSM standard. In 2000, Moldova awarded a second GSM license to Moldcell, a joint venture between Turkish Turkcell (77 percent) and Chişina˘u-based Accent Electronics (23 percent). In 1999, the Internet usage was 5.8 per 1,000 of the population, there were 16 Internet service providers, and Moldova leased out its "md" domain name to inhabitants of the state of Maryland in the United States.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

The entire economy of Moldova has been in decline since independence in 1991. In 1998, the contributions to GDP of the 3 major sectors were as follows: agriculture, 31 percent; industry, 35 percent (mostly from food processing); and services, 34 percent. Agriculture employed 40.2 percent of the labor force , while industry employed 14.3 percent, and other sectors employed 45.5 percent. Over the 1990s, industrial output declined 2.5 times due to the loss of markets and the drop in domestic farm production. The country has a development strategy focusing on light manufacturing (textiles, consumer electronics) and cement.

AGRICULTURE

Agriculture provides employment for over 40 percent of the population and contributes nearly a third of GDP. Some 75 percent of Moldovan territory is fertile Chernozem (black earth) and agricultural products account for 75 percent of all exports. Twenty-one percent of Moldovan agricultural land was held as individual farms, 61 percent as cooperative farms, and 18 percent by state-owned farms in 1999; in all, 85,000 private farmers were operating throughout the country. Privatization of former cooperative farms has been slow (al-most nonexistent in Transnistria) and the land market has been small, not least because foreigners are not allowed to purchase land. Farm consolidation is taking root as approximately 10,000 larger farms were formed in 1998 and 1999.

Cereals, sunflowers, sugar beets, potatoes, vegetables, tobacco, fruits, and grapes are grown, but plantings of capital-intensive cropstobacco and vegetables have declined due to the loss of markets and limited domestic consumption. The number of livestock decreased considerably over the 1990s due to high costs and low demand. The agricultural sector has been affected over the 1990s by droughts, frosts, floods, and shortage of materials, machines, and fertilizers once supplied by the USSR. More intensive farming techniques have lowered productivity by 35 percent. The sector still receives subsidies and tax incentives, but recent command measures (such as the attempt to ban wheat exports) continue to repel potential investors.

INDUSTRY

Food processing (including sugar and vegetable oil) is the largest domestic industry, followed by power generation, engineering (mostly agricultural machinery, foundry equipment, refrigerators, freezers, and washing machines), hosiery, shoes, and textiles. Industrial production decreased by 10 percent in 1999 and the sector, which accounts for less than 15 percent of GDP, has been declining ever since independence, devastated by rising energy prices, the decline in agriculture, and the loss of markets. The conflict with Transnistria has had a significant effect on this sector since all production of electric machines, power transformers, gas containers, slate, 95 percent of the cotton fabrics, 87 percent of the electricity, and a large part of the cement industry are located there.

The food industry accounted for 58.2 percent of the manufacturing output in 1997, far ahead of energy production (18.4 percent), the second largest industry. The importance of the third largest sector, engineering and metal processing, declined from almost 18 percent in 1990 to 5.9 percent in 1997. Similarly, the importance of light industry, which was the second biggest sector after food-processing in 1990, has also declined, from 21.1 percent in 1990 to 5.8 percent in 1997. Efforts to produce exports for more stable and lucrative markets such as those in the European Union (EU) have been difficult due to the lower product quality of Moldovan firms. Wine represents a major product of Moldova's economy, with exports in a good year accounting for up to 50 percent of the total export income. The wine industry has attracted some western investment and loans from the EBRD, but in 1998 Russia still accounted for 85.6 percent of wine export sales. The tobacco processing industry remains one of the country's most important; during Soviet times, the republic produced 40 percent of the USSR's annual crop. Moldova plans to privatize Tutun, the country's largest tobacco concern. Some new industries, such as scrap metal processing, chemicals, and medical equipment, have also emerged since independence. The construction materials industry is expanding through exports of cement, gypsum, and ceramics, and through investment in civil engineering.

SERVICES

The banking system includes the independent National Bank of Moldova (NBM) and 21 commercial banks. Although small, the banking system has functioned well over the 1990s. Banking laws and accounting standards correspond to international standards, and there are no restrictions on foreign banks. There were 21 commercial banks in 2000; 3 others closed down in 1998. The largest banks, accounting for two-thirds of all assets and deposits, are Agroindbank, Petrol Bank, Banca De Economii, Moldindconbank, Banca Sociala, and Victoriabank. Victoriabank, a private commercial bank, has been most active in supporting small industry and retail. A network of savings and credit associations is being developed in villages, and insurance is becoming important, with 40 companies providing services.

Chişina˘u shows signs of developing a retail sector with several private Western-style shops and restaurants. Outside town, options are limited. The Green Hills is the largest of the supermarkets, while the Ninevia and the Fidesco supermarkets carry many imported supplies. High prices on imported goods make them unavailable for the majority of the population. Tourism is underdeveloped with a few Soviet-era hotels in Chişina˘u and no efforts to attract foreign visitors.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Exports amounted to $470 million in 1999 and included foodstuffs, wine, and tobacco (which accounted for 66 percent of total exports), textiles and footwear, and machinery. Most exports in 1998 were shipped to Russia (53 percent), while Romania took 10 percent, Ukraine 8 percent, Germany 5 percent, and Belarus 4 percent. Imports in 1998 were worth $560 million and included mineral products and fuel, machinery and equipment, chemicals, and textiles. The majority of imports originate from Russia (22 percent); other major importers were Ukraine (16 percent), Romania (12 percent), Belarus (9 percent), and Germany (5 percent). In 1998, the collapse in the value of the leu brought the trade deficit to $389.1 million from $297.3 million in 1997, due to lower exports and higher import costs.

Prospects for increased trade grew by the turn of the century. In 2000 alone Moldova's foreign trade rose 22 percent to US$1.27 billion dollars. Moreover, Moldova joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, an action which held the promise of opening trade beyond the limited confines of former Soviet countries.

MONEY

The National Bank of Moldova (NBM) was established in 1991 and is responsible for monetary policy and banking supervision. The first years following independence were a difficult time for Moldovan finances. Inflation hit 2,700 percent in 1993, but prudent fiscal policies brought the inflation level down to 11.2 percent in 1997. The Russian crisis led to intense pressure on the Moldovan currency, and after the devaluation of the Russian rouble, the NBM abandoned support of the leu

Exchange rates: Moldova
lei (MDL) per US$1
Jan 2001 12.3728
2000 12.4342
1999 10.5158
1998 5.3707
1997 4.6236
1996 4.6045
Note: Lei is the plural form of leu.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

in order to conserve its foreign exchange reserves , and it was devaluated at 100 percent. Inflation rates that peaked at 40 percent during the Russian financial crisis were expected to drop to 10 percent in 2001.

Other elements of the financial sector are less developed but include the National Commodity Exchange, established in 1991; the Moldova Interbank Currency Exchange; the Moldovan Stock Exchange, established in 1995; 15 investment funds; and 8 trust companies. The National Commission on the Securities Market supervises the market participants. The Moldovan Stock Exchange (MSE) was established in June 1995 as an electronic, screen-based, order-driven system. Only 20 companies are listed, but the trade volume increased from US$2.5 million in 1996 to US$52.6 million in 1998. The unregulated over-the-counter market accounted for 48 percent of the transactions in 1999.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

Under the Soviet regime, employment was almost total and provided modest livelihoods for nearly everyone in a relatively egalitarian society (with the exception of the more affluent groups of the communist elite and the underworld). But independence and the reforms of the 1990s generated unemployment, crime, corruption, poverty, and illicit fortunes. The population below the poverty line was estimated in 1999 at a stunning 75 percent (in Romania, it was 30 percent; in Russia and

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Moldova N/A 1,453 1,572 1,776 614
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Russia 2,555 3,654 3,463 3,668 2,138
Romania 1,201 1,643 1,872 1,576 1,310
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Moldova
Lowest 10% 2.7
Lowest 20% 6.9
Second 20% 11.9
Third 20% 16.7
Fourth 20% 23.1
Highest 20% 41.5
Highest 10% 25.8
Survey year: 1992
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

Ukraine, 25-50 percent). Moldova's Gini index (measuring economic equality, with 0 standing for perfect equality and 100 for perfect inequality) in 1992 was 34.4, far lower than in the United States (40.6), but considerably higher than in Bulgaria (28) and Greece (32).

The social cost of market reforms has been greater than was assumed, and the state has proved incapable of ensuring support for the poor. It failed to stimulate the private sector as a compensation for unemployment or to reorganize the social services. Mass privatization turned unworthy assets over to poor owners and funneled high-quality assets to the well connected. The reach of the underground economy (which was estimated at 35 percent of GDP in 1999), leads to corruption, reduced public revenues, and widening income inequality. Poverty is causing stress, particularly in rural areas, and limiting private economic initiative. To relieve poverty, the Moldovan government has relied on international aid, such as IMF's $142 million poverty reduction facility, and on plans to decentralize social services in order to boost social sector reform.

WORKING CONDITIONS

The labor force numbered 1.7 million in 1998, and the unemployment rate was about 31 percent in 2000. Economic instability, according to United Nations Development Program reports, makes it difficult for the government to uphold adequately the right to social insurance and protection (guaranteed by article 47 of the constitution), the right to work and labor protection (Article 43), the right to health protection (article 36), and the right to a favorable working environment (article 37). The state does not meet its commitments to protect family and orphans (article 49), the interests of mothers, children and youth (article 50), or the interests of persons with disabilities (article 51). The average monthly wage in 1999 reached $25, insufficient to provide a decent standard of living. Many workers were using outdated technology

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All Food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Moldova 31 5 11 3 15 12 23
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Russia 28 11 16 7 15 8 16
Romania 36 7 9 3 20 9 16
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

without adequate safety regulations, and work-place conditions were poor and often dangerous. Under the Soviet regime, unions were government-controlled; independent ones began to emerge in 1991, but their influence is limited partly due to the increasing size of the private sector.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

14TH CENTURY. The principality of Moldavia is founded by the Vlachs, inhabitants of the Carpathian Mountains and other parts of the Balkan Peninsula.

15TH CENTURY. The Ottoman Empire absorbs Moldavia and develops a feudal agricultural society.

1812. Russia annexes the eastern portion of Moldavia, historically known as Bessarabia.

1856. European powers grant Moldavia and Bessarabia independence from the Ottoman Empire and Russia, respectively, and they are united with independent Walachia in 1859, assuming the newly-minted name of Romania.

1878. Russia regains Bessarabia.

1918. After the 1917 Russian revolution, Russian Bessarabia decides in favor of unification with Romania. Western powers recognize the incorporation at the Paris Peace Conference of 1920.

1924. The Soviets establish the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) east of the Nistru (Dniester) River within Ukraine.

1939. A German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact forces Romania to cede Bessarabia to the USSR.

1940. The Soviet government proclaims the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR), including the territory of the former Moldavian ASSR (Transnistria), with a capital in Chişina˘u.

1941. Romania, an ally of Nazi Germany, declares war on the USSR and invades Bessarabia with German assistance during World War II.

1944. The USSR reestablishes the Moldavian SSR toward the end of World War II. Over the next 50 years its economy is integrated into the Soviet system with collective and state farms on expropriated farmland. The country remains rural, although new industries appear in urban areas, and Russians become the majority in the cities.

1985. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduces political and economic reforms in the USSR.

1989. The Popular Front of Moldova (PFM), the first opposition group, is formed.

1990. A local referendum approves autonomy for the predominantly Slavic Transnistria region, giving rise to a lasting controversy over the status of the region.

1991. The Moldavian SSR changes its name to the Republic of Moldova and declares its independence from the USSR.

1992. Moldova joins the International Monetary Fund.

1994. First multi-party elections; the first post-Soviet constitution is adopted.

2001. Moldova joins the World Trade Organization.

FUTURE TRENDS

The economic future of Moldova depends on the successful completion of its reforms, the future strength of the Russian and Ukrainian economies, and the successful accession of Romania to the European Union, since these 3 countries receive 70 percent of its exports and supply almost all its energy. Prior to elections in 2000 Moldova appeared to be heading toward greater trade relations with the international community, but the ascension to power of the Communist Party of Moldova (CMP) puts such engagement in doubt. The CMP's control of government may reduce political instability, particularly regarding the Transnistria stand-off, but any slowing of economic reforms could limit GDP growth to 3-3.5 percent a year while possible fiscal and monetary liberalization may cause 20 percent inflation in 2001. The more pro-Romanian and pro-European direction of centrist foreign policy may give way to closer ties and even integration with the Russian-Belarusian union.

The CPM may also run contrary to the IMF agreement with its renewed price controls and state monopoly over the wine and tobacco sectors; it is unlikely, however, that the general direction of reform toward a market economy will be reversed. Moldova has good long-term growth prospects in terms of geographical location, resources, and a skilled workforce, but has a long way to go before an operational market economy could create the sustainable ground for improved living standards for the majority of the people.

DEPENDENCIES

Moldova has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dawisha, Karen, and Bruce Parrott, eds. Democratic Changes and Authoritarian Reactions in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Moldova. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Fedor, Helen, editor. Belarus and Moldova: Country Studies. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1996.

Republic of Moldova. <http://www.moldova.md>. Accessed August 2001.

Republic of Moldova Site. <http://www.moldova.org>. Accessed August 2001.

United Nations Development Program. Human Development Report, Republic of Moldova. New York, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <http:// www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed August 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Moldova. <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/index.html>. Accessed August 2001.

Valentin Hadjiyski

CAPITAL:

Chişina˘u

MONETARY UNIT:

Moldovan leu (MDL; plural lei). One leu equals 100 bani. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 bani, and notes of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 lei.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Foodstuffs, wine, and tobacco (66 percent); textiles and footwear, machinery.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Mineral products and fuel (31 percent); machinery and equipment, chemicals, textiles.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$9.7 billion (1999 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$470 million (f.o.b., 1999). Imports: US$560 million (f.o.b., 1999).

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Moldova

Moldova

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Moldova
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 4,431,570
Language(s): Moldovan (official), Russian, Gagauz
Literacy rate: 96.0%
Area: 33,843 sq km
GDP: 1,286 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 1
Number of Television Sets: 126,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 28.4
Number of Cable Subscribers: 50,740
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 11.8
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 3,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 0.7
Number of Radio Stations: 60
Number of Radio Receivers: 3,220,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 726.6
Number of Individuals with Computers: 63,500
Computers per 1,000: 14.3
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 52,600
Internet Access per 1,000: 11.9

Background & General Characteristics

In 2002, 180 newspapers and magazines were published in the Republic of Moldova. Printed media, as well as TV and radio programs appear in Romanian, Russian, Gagauzi, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, and Yiddish languages. Although the Constitution defines Moldavian as an official language, it is a regular practice among many people, including the intellectual elite and officials to refer to Moldavian as Romanian to emphasize once common history and culture of Moldova and Romania.

The Moldavian population is, in general, well educated and overall is interested in mass media. According to the census taken in 1989, 96.4 percent of the adult population were literate. About 70 percent of them had secondary or higher education. Moldova has a mandatory 9-grade school education for young people.

Press History

The history of the Moldavian press begins in 1790 when the first official periodical Curier de Moldavie (Moldavian Herald), in the French language, was initiated in the city of Yassy near the Russian Army Headquarters. The periodical was dislocated to the territory of the Moldavian Knighthood after the Russo-Turkish war of 1787-1791. In 1829, famous writer Georgi Asaki introduced to the public the first newspaper (Albina Romanesca, or Romanian Bee) in the native Romanian language. It was published in Yassy every two days on four pages. In July 1854, Moldova, which was then called Bessarabia and was a province in the Russian Empire, commenced the publication of the official newspaper Bessarabskie Oblastnye Vedomosti (Bessarabian Official Reports) under the auspices of the local governor authorities. The first magazine Kishinevskie Eparkhi al'nye Vedomosti (Official Reports of Kishineu Parish) which appeared in 1867, both in Russian and Romanian languages had religious orientations. In 1917, it changed its name to Golos Pravoslavnoi Bessarabskoi Tserkvi (Voice of Bessarabian Orthodox Church).

The history of private press begins with the Bessarabski Vestnik (Bessarabian Herald) which was published on a weekly basis in the city of Chisinau in 1889 by Elizabeth Sokolova, the wife of the local high official. Along with the official reports, it placed articles reflecting the social, political, and economic life of the province; literary essays; and humor stories. The weekly leaned toward democratic circles of the Bessarabian society.

In 1854-1899, Bessarabia had 28 printed publications, including 9 newspapers, 2 magazines, 14 publications by various institutions, and 3 address-calendars. Their number had increased dramatically to 254 by the beginning of the twentieth century. It included both official and non-official newspapers and magazines such as Literary Almanac, Bessarabian AgricultureWine and Gardening, Wine and Winery, among them. Sixteen publications were in Romanian.

In 1918-1940, the larger western part of Bessarabia became occupied by Romania, while the smaller one attained a status of Moldavian Autonomous Socialist Republic within the Soviet Ukraine. The Moldavian press in Romania developed under the great influence of local nationalism and Romanian culture, while in Socialist Moldavia (until 1991), all state-owned media promoted the ideas and practices of the Communist party and its ideology. No independent mass media existed in the Socialist Moldavia. Though mass media achieved significant accomplishments during the Soviet times, such as the publication of ninety printed editions in various ethnic languages, and the development of the huge radio and TV broadcasting networks, to name a few, they had a strict state and party censorship.

Mass Media under Democracy

In 1991, Moldova was proclaimed a sovereign state. As a democratic, free market-oriented country, Moldova eliminated the state and Communist party monopoly and the censorship in media production: state publishing houses, radio stations, and printed media became privatized. The emergence of independent media, news agencies, TV channels, and radio stations became a reality. Religious press grew fast. Demand, supply, and competition started ruling the mass media market. However, the first results were not quite encouraging for many media employees. The process of privatization did not proceed in a just, fair way for them, because journalists, reporters, and other media professionals were deprived of the right to purchase any publishing, broadcasting, and photographic facilities. Many media that were purchased, furthermore, could not find financial resources and consequently failed. In the mid-1990s, the government began to nationalize some of them. As a result, 50 percent of all printed and electronic media returned to state control. This, of course, did not promote the freedom of press in the country. The journalists faced a dilemma: to fight for a real independence, including a financial one, or serve the interests of the government which guaranteed salary and means for existence in exchange for surrendering certain freedoms. Due to the economic difficulties, many journalists chose a third way: to serve the political interests of the parties that mushroomed (over fifty at the beginning of 1990s) since the sovereignty was proclaimed. This decision led them, to a great extent, to lose their professionalism and objectivity. The political parties' press dominated the market in the first half of the 1990s. A decade later, when the citizenry realized that the press media was not objective, the number of parties and party press significantly dwindled. Though 40 percent of the press still belonged to the parties in 2002, their circulation did not reach the circulation of the independent press.

Most Popular Newspapers and Magazines

Two newspapers stand out on the media scene; Moldova Suverena (Sovereign Moldova), with a circulation of 7,000 copies, in Romanian, and Nezavisimaya Moldova (Independent Moldova), with a circulation of 10,500 copies in Russian. Both support the party in power and the political forces associated with it. This was borne out in 2001 parliamentary elections, when they both upheld the political alliance headed by the Prime Minister Dmitry Bragish.

The nationalistic resurgence movements of Moldova promote their agenda through a variety of newspapers. One of them, Literature si Arta (Literature and Art, with 18,200 copies), a weekly published in Romanian, belongs to the Union of Writers of Moldova. Traditionally, it leans toward the right and disseminates the national-patriotic sentiments. In 2001 parliamentary elections, it backed up the Party of Democratic Forces since its editor-in-chief Nikolai Dabizha could be found among the candidates of this party.

The right spectrum of the Moldavian press is represented by the daily Flux, which is considered the most influential newspaper in the Romanian language (36,000 copies). It expresses the outlook of the pro-Romanian circles in the country under the leadership of Yuri Poshka, the Chairperson of Christian-Democratic People Party. The independent Jurnal de Chisinau at 11,000 copies, and Tara (Country) at 7,500 copies, both in Romanian, and Novoe Vremya (New Time) at 10,000 copies, published in Russian by the Democratic Party, can also be numbered among this spectrum.

In 1995, the Party of Resurgence and Accord (PRA) headed by the ex-President Mircea Snegur launched the Russian-language newspaper Moldavskie Vedomosti (Moldavian Official Reports), at 6,000 copies. It gradually lost its party affiliation, though still remains between the right and the center media in the political arena. The former official newspaper, Luceafurul (Morning Star), with a circulation of 10,000 copies, claims to be independent from the PRA since 2001, however, it still adheres to a great extent to the politics of this party.

The Romanian-language weekly Saptamina (Week), 17,400 copies, represents the political views of the centrist movements and adheres to the party in power. It was founded in 1992.

Kishinevskie Novosti (Chisinau News), 8,400 copies, adheres to the left. Since its foundation in 1991, it remains one of three most popular newspapers published in Russian. It successfully combines information with advertisements, allocating balanced space to classified ads and to information on serious and light aspects of life in the capital.

The Communist Party of Moldova disseminates 25,000 copies of the newspaper Communist, both in Romanian and Russian, which was published once a week until 2001 and twice a week since then. The publication enjoys popularity predominantly among the Party supporters and elderly generation. Over time, it has become less orthodox in expressing Communist views and ideology.

The extreme political orientation of many national newspapers makes it difficult for the readers to form an objective opinion on the events in the country, since very few individuals, due to the present severe financial constraints, can afford to buy a diverse array of publications. The population is equally as swayed in the remote rural areas where they predominantly read press materials, listen to radio programs, and watch TV shows produced by local companies.

There are also periodicals for various sub-groups of the population. Some of them target children and teenagers, Noi (We), in Romanian; Drug (Friend), in Russian and a private magazine Welcome Moldova, in English; or youth Tineretul Moldovei (Young Moldavian), in Romanian and Otechestvo (Fatherland), in Russian; and others are designed for women. Most of the press comes from Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. There are also a variety of periodicals devoted to sports, hobbies, and recreation. Among the sports periodicals are Rest with Soccer, Sport Plus, and Sport-Curier.

On the territory of self-proclaimed Pri-Dnestr Moldavian Republic, the mass media work under strict state censorship. Most of them keep to pro-government orientation. Pridnestrovskaya Pravda (Pri-Dnestr Truth) andPridnestrovie (Pri-Dnestr) are the most known in that area.

The democratic processes in Moldova created opportunities for the development of new information agencies. The monopolist of the one state agency, ATEM, dissolved. Among more than a dozen new agencies, there is the government agency Moldpres (1940), the Chisinau municipal council agency Info-prim (1998), and the independent agencies Basa-pres (1992), NICA-pres (1993), Interlic (1995), AP "FLUX" (1995), and "DECA"-pres (1996).

Press Laws

Freedom of expression, speech, and access to information are basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Moldova, which was adopted in 1994. According to Article 32, every citizen is guaranteed "the freedom of thought, opinion, and their public expression in words, paintings, or by other means." Article 34 guarantees the right to have access to any information concerning governance and the functioning of state bodies. Article 5 forbids censorship.

The Constitution's articles of the press are supported by three major laws, the Law on Press (1994), the Law on TV and Radio (1995), and the Law on Access to Information (2000). The Law on TV and Radio is considered by legal experts a major step forward for it envisions the transformation of state broadcasting in public and private sectors. It also stipulates the procedures for the establishment of independent broadcasting companies.

The Law on Press guarantees political pluralism (Article 1, paragraph 1). Any legal organization or any citizen of the country over eighteen years of age has the right to open a news agency or launch a periodical (Article 5, paragraph 1). All media must be registered in the Ministry of Justice. The state pledges to defend the honor and dignity of journalists, their life, and property (Article 20, paragraph 3). The media must not inflict harm upon the honor and dignity of any citizen or to his/her private life, his/her right to have an opinion; to the national security, territorial integrity, public calm and law. They are not to disclose confidential information.

The Criminal Code of the Republic of Moldova, Article 7, guarantees citizens the right to file law suits against those media which publish false information about them. The Code stipulates significant fines (up to 200 minimum monthly salaries) for publishing false information in the press. Defamation in any print form can be punished by up to three years imprisonment or up to 50 minimum monthly salaries.

The Coordination Council on TV and Radio Broadcasting grants and revokes licenses for TV broadcasting and allocates radio frequencies on a competitive bid basis, sponsored by the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The professional journalist organizations consider some articles of the laws inaccurate, incomplete, or contradictory, which interferes with the free functioning of the press. For example, they expressed concern about Article 7, paragraph 4 of the Law on Press, which does not specify in which cases the court has the right to terminate a license. It does not specify the words "misuse of the media" which can have multiple interpretations. The concerns were also expressed by journalists about the possibility of abuse of Article 7, paragraph 1 of the Legal Code for moral damage in cases of criticizing the activities of government officials.

State-Press Relations

Although the existing laws of the Republic of Moldova guarantee mass media the freedom of expression, from time to time many of them come across serious problems. The ban on censorship does not imply its total elimination. An unofficial, covert censorship often takes its place in many mass media. This perspective is supported by the survey of journalists conducted by the Center for the Support of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in November, 2001. The presence of direct or indirect censorship was acknowledged by 95.6 percent of journalists.

The party and political censorship grossly prevail. The government efficiently uses the imperfect laws and economic leverages in exercising its pressure on media. The laws are often used to defend not the freedom of expression and speech, but the reputation of corrupt individuals. About 800 lawsuits were filed by government officials against journalists since 1995. There are grave obstacles in implementing the Law on Access to Information. Since its adoption, not a single lawsuit was filed against any state official for hiding any publicly significant information. The press services of the government and governmental bodies appear to serve as filters, not suppliers, of information.

The licensing of electronic mass media serves as another powerful tool of intrusion and direct control of the state over the content of the press materials. The Coordination Council on Radio and TV Broadcasting includes only the representatives of the power; lay people are not among them.

The critical coverage of the government and governmental bodies can be found mainly in the opposition party media. Shutting down the Commersant Moldovi (Moldavian Salesman) in 2001 serves as an outstanding example of persecution of media for critical coverage of some events. The newspaper was accused of promoting separatism of the country when it published interviews with the leaders of the unrecognized Pre-Dnestr Moldavian Republic, which fought for secession from Moldova.

The state and independent mass media find themselves in unequal economic conditions. The low quality of life of the population (in 2002, 75 percent of the population lived below the poverty line) deprived independent mass media of their major financial support from their readers. The newspapers and magazines that had circulation of 200,000 and more during the Soviet times dropped their circulation to between 10 and 15 thousand copies. The high cost of paper imported by Moldova, constantly increasing tariffs for photographic services, and taxes which are as high as in other businesses put many publications on the brink of bankruptcy. In these conditions, the government uses sales tax as one of the forms of manipulation with mass media. The introduction or elimination of the tax depends upon every new government. Growing tariffs on subscription and delivery of media worsen the situation.

Foreign capital's ownership of stock in Moldavian print-media companies is restricted by law to no more than 49 percent; for electronic media the percentage cap is 85 percent.

The deepening economic crisis in the country does not allow private businesses to place their commercial advertisements in media to increase their income. Additional taxation of advertisement does not encourage media hunts for potential customers. Many companies spend tiny amounts of money on advertising.

The journalists encounter many problems because they do not have a trade union of their own. They are members of the Union of the Workers of Culture, a part of the independent trade union of Moldova Solidaritatea (Solidarity), which does not effectively defend its members. As a result, in 2002, a group of concerned journalists created a steering committee to establish a professional union of their own.

The journalists of Moldova can join various creative organizations, such as the Union of Journalists of Moldova. The newly created League of Journalists of Moldova acts as an alternative association to support and defend their rights and to promote professionalism. The journalists exercise their rights and actualize interests and needs through other alliances, such as the Association of Electronic Press or APEL, the Committee for the Freedom of Press in Moldova, Independent Journalism Center, and Center for the Support of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

The Republic of Moldova is a democratic society. In 2002, over 70 foreign publishing houses, information agencies, radio and TV companies received accreditation with ITAR-TASS, RIA Novosti, Radio Free Europe, BBC, Editing-Frans, Deutsche Press, ARD, International Media Corporation, Journalism 2, and PRO-TV among them. The accreditation of foreign journalists is carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in accordance with the Procedures for Accreditation and Activity of Foreign Journalists, approved by the government in 1995.

The Western press is distributed mainly by subscription. It is not available for retail sale. One can purchase Western newspapers and magazines only in the governmental institutions, elite hotels, and restaurants. Private companies deliver The Wall Street Journal Europe, The Guardian Europe, Financial TimesBildLe Monde,Newsweek, and others.

The press from Russia prevails in retail sale due to high demand. Three Russian publications Argumenty I Fakty (Arguments and Facts), Komsomol'skaya Pravda (Komsomol Truth), and Trud (Labor) have supplements with an overview of major political, economic, and cultural events in the Republic of Moldova.

Broadcast Media

While prior to 1991 Moldova had only one state-run TV company, in 2002 there were 39 non-cable TV studios and 47 cable TV studios. Only four of them belong to the state. These stations are, Teleradio-Moldova, Gagauzia, Euro TV-Chisinau, TV-Balti. The most popular private TV studios are NIT, ORT Moldova, PRO-TV, TV6-Balti, and TV26-Chisinau. The biggest cable TV studio, SunTV, is a joint venture of USA and Moldova with 70 percent of the stock belonging to the American side. The cable TV network develops rapidly not only in the capital Chisinau, but all over the Republic, with Balti-6 and TV-SAD in Beltsy; Centru-TV, SATELITTV, and Alternative-TV in Chisinau; and Inter-TV in Faleshty. Practically every district, capital, and big city has cable TV. Though censorship is outlawed in radio and TV, the hidden censorship influences the work of some companies. It relates to the greatest extent to the state company Teleradio Moldova. Its chair is elected by the Parliament and often exercises subtle pressure on the journalists in the interests of the Parliament majority and blocks the opposition from access to the listeners. In one case, the head of the company repeatedly dismissed two journalists. Yet in each case they appealed in court and were reinstated.

In March and April, 2002, the bigger part of the journalist core of the Teleradio-Moldova company went on "passive" strike to protest against the subtle censorship. The journalists also demanded the adoption of the Law on Public TV and to turn the state TV company into a public one to reflect the interests of all layers of Moldavian society.

The international TV companies must get a license to operate in the country. Among those that were granted licenses are Romanian Public Television TVR-1 and TV company TV-5 (Francofonia, a Belgium-France Switzerland conglomerate). Broadcasting of Russian TV channels is regulated by the Agreement, signed in 1997 by the governments of the Moldavian Republic and the Russian Federation. Some other international channels are aired by local companies on the basis of bilateral agreements, which are registered by the Coordination Council on TV, and Radio Broadcasting. Russian ORT, RTR, NTV, RentTV, and Romanian PRO TV enjoy the most popularity among the Moldavian audience.

As Moldova received independence, the number of radio stations significantly grew in the country. There were 28 stations in 2002, with 21 of them in the capital city of Chisinau. Radio-Polidisc (Chisinau), Radio-Nova (Chisinau), HIT-EM (Chisinau), BlueStar (Beltsy), Radio-Sanatate (Edintsy), and the State Radio Station are known to be the most popular.

The following foreign radio stations acquired licenses to broadcast in the Republic: France-International, Free Europe, and the BBC. Radio stations of Russia and Romania are very popular too.

The Coordination Council on TV and Radio Broadcasting issues licenses. The Council also controls the implementation of laws by TV and radio companies. Its nine members represent each branch of power on an equal basis. The Council is re-elected every five years and the chair is elected by its members.

In the late 1990s, the country witnessed the growth of electronic online press. Reporter.md, MoldNet, MoldovaOnline, Infomarket.md, Integrare Europeana, YAM.ro, Moldova-Azi, and Press Box.md are among the most popular electronic information agencies. In general, access to electronic media among the population is still insignificant because of its high cost. Only the few wealthy individuals, big companies, and some universities can afford subscriptions to the Internet. The Internet is more accessible in the capital Chisinau and in big cities; less so in rural areas where the majority of the population lives.

Education & TRAINING

Until 2001, Moldova State University had been the only educational institution that prepared the journalist cadres for the country in both Romanian and Russian languages. Between 1966 and 2002, 1,500 journalists graduated from the University. In 2001, departments of journalism were launched in two private institutions, the International Independent University and Slavic University.

Bibliography

Corlat, S. Editii Electronice in Format HTML. Chisinau: Centrul Editorial al FJSC a USM, Moldova, 2002.

Coval, D. Jurnalism de Investigatie. Chisinau: Centrul Editorial al FJSC a USM, 2001.

. Problematica Presei Scrise. Chisinau: Centrul Editorial al FJSC a USM, 1997.

Dreptul Tau: Accessul la Informatie. Chisinau: Universul, 2001.

King, Ch. The Moldovans : Romania, Russia, and the politics of culture. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 2000.

Koval, D. Pervaya Chastnya Gazeta v Bessarabii v XX Veke. Chisinau: Centrul Editorial al FJSC a USM, 1996.

Marin, K. Comunicare Institutionala. Chisinau: Centrul Editorial al FJSC a USM, 1998.

MASS-MEDIA in Societatile in Transitie: Realitati si Perspective. Chisinau: Central Editoria al FJSC a USM, 2001.

Moraru, V. Mass Media Versus Politica. Chisinau: Centrul editorial al FJSC a USM, 2001.

Grigory Dmitriyev

Viktor Kostetsky

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Moldova

Moldova (məldō´və), officially Republic of Moldova, republic (2005 est. pop. 4,455,000), c.13,000 sq mi (33,670 sq km). Chişinău (formerly Kishinev) is the capital and largest city.

Land and People

Moldova is landlocked. The Prut River separates it from Romania in the west. In the north and east, the Dniester River forms its approximate boundary with Ukraine, on which it also borders in the south; in the east there is a narrow strip of Moldovan terrritory between the Dniester and the Ukraine border (the predominantly Russian and Ukrainian Trans-Dniester Region). Mostly a hilly plain, Moldova occupies all but the southernmost and northernmost sections of former Bessarabia. Its proximity to the Black Sea gives it a mild climate.

More than 75% of the population are Moldovans, who are ethnically identical to Romanians; Ukrainians and Russians make up about 15%, and there are several smaller minorities, including the Turkish-speaking Gagauz, Bulgarians, and Jews. Most of the people belong to the Orthodox Church, and legislation passed in 2007 recognized the Orthodox Church for its special role in Moldovan history and society. The official language, which has been called alternately Moldovan or Romanian, is largely indistinguishable from Romanian.

Economy

Moldova's fertile soil supports wheat, corn, barley, vegetables, sugar beets, sunflowers, and tobacco, as well as extensive fruit orchards, vineyards, and walnut groves. Horticulture is important for the production of essences such as rose oil and lavender. Beef and dairy cattle are raised, and there is beekeeping and silkworm breeding. Industries include food processing, winemaking, and the manufacture of agricultural machinery, foundry equipment, major appliances, textiles, and footwear. Remittances from Moldovans working abroad are also important to the economy. After achieving independence, Moldova took steps toward converting to a market economy and launched an ambitious privatization program, but the country remains undeveloped industrially and ranks as one of the poorest nations of Europe. Exports include foodstuffs, textiles, and machinery. Moldova imports all of its oil, coal, and natural gas, as well as machinery, chemicals, and automobiles. The principal trading partners are Russia, Ukraine, and Romania.

Government

Moldova is governed under the constitution of 1994. The president, who is the head of state, is elected by the legislature for a four-year term and is eligible for a second term. The prime minister, who is the head of government, is appointed by the president, as is the cabinet. Members of the 101-seat Parliament are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. Administratively, Moldova is divided into 32 raions (districts or counties), three municipalities, and two territorial units, one of which (Gagauzia) is autonomous.

History

A historic passageway between Asia and S Europe, Moldova was often subject to invasion and warfare. It is historically part of a greater Moldavia, the main part of which was an independent principality in the 14th cent. and came under Ottoman Turkish rule in the 16th cent. It became a highly fortified Turkish border region and was a frequent target in Russo-Turkish wars. East Moldavia passed to Russia in 1791. Russia acquired further Moldavian territory in 1793 and especially in 1812, when the Russians received all of Bessarabia (the name for the area of Moldavia between the Prut and Dniester rivers). The rest of Moldavia remained with the Turks and later passed to Romania, which seized Bessarabia in 1918.

In 1924, the USSR, refusing to sanction the seizure, established the Moldavian ASSR in Ukraine, with Balta and then (1929) Tiraspol as the capital. Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia to the USSR in 1940. The predominantly Ukrainian districts in the south and around Khotin in the north were incorporated into Ukraine, as were parts of the Moldavian ASSR; the rest was merged with what remained of the Moldavian ASSR and made a constituent republic (the Moldavian SSR). Taken by Romania in 1941, the republic was reconquered by the USSR in 1944. In June, 1990, the Moldavian SSR adopted a measure calling for greater sovereignty within the USSR. In Aug., 1991, Moldova, which is the Romanian name of the region, was declared an independent republic; Mircea Snegur was elected president, and it reluctantly joined the Russian-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

With independence, a guerrilla war began that sought secession of the Trans-Dniester Region, where there were many ethnic Russians who feared a Moldovan merger with Romania. In 1992 a cease-fire went into effect that granted limited autonomy to the region, and Russian troops were stationed there. In 1995, in a move termed illegal by the central government, residents overwhelmingly voted for independence from Moldova. A peace accord was signed in 1997, giving the region more autonomy but agreeing that Moldova would remain a single state; relations between the region and central government are occasionally tense. Gagauzia, a region dominated by ethnic Turks, was granted limited autonomy in 1994, with the right to secede in the event Moldova should merge with Romania.

In the first post-Soviet parliamentary elections in Moldova (1994), Snegur's Agrarian Democratic Party (ADP), running on a centrist platform and in opposition to unification with Romania, won a majority. Intraparty conflicts led to a split in the ADP in mid-1995, when Snegur organized the new centrist Party of Revival and Harmony. The pro-Moscow faction remained within the ADP. A crisis was precipitated in Mar., 1996, when Snegur attempted to remove the defense minister. The largely ADP army resisted Snegur's order, and his actions were subsequently ruled unconstitutional.

Petru Lucinschi, a former Communist running as an independent, won a presidential runoff election against Snegur in Dec., 1996. A coalition of center-right parties formed a goverment following legislative elections in 1998, although Communists won the largest bloc of seats in parliament. In 1999, Russia agreed to withdraw its remaining troops from Moldova by 2001, but about 1,500 remain in the Trans-Dniester Region. The Communist party won nearly 50% of the vote and 71 parliamentary seats in the 2001 elections; subsequently, Vladimir Voronin, a Communist, was elected president. Although they came to power advocating closer relations with Russia (and provoked antigovernment demonstrations by attempting to require Russian in schools and make it a second official language), the Communists became somewhat more pro-Western during the subsequent four years.

A Russian-sponsored accord on the Trans-Dniester Region was rejected in Nov., 2003, after mass demonstrations against it by Moldovans; the agreement would have permitted Russian troops to stay in the region in a buffer zone until 2020. An attempt by Trans-Dniester to force the use of the Cyrillic alphabet in its Moldovan-language schools led to heightened tensions between the breakaway region and Moldova in 2004, and led to economic retaliation by Moldova.

In the 2005 parliamentary elections the Communists won 46% of the vote and 56 seats, and the new parliament reelected Voronin. In mid-2005 the parliament passed a law that offered Trans-Dniester a special regional status in exchange for an end to its separatist movement. Moldova secured some leverage over Trans-Dniester in Mar., 2006, when Ukraine, partly in response to European Union concerns about smuggling, began requiring that goods coming from Trans-Dniester clear Moldovan customs. Russia subsequently (Apr., 2006) imposed a ban on the importation of Moldovan wines, brandies, and meat, ostensibly for sanitary reasons.

In Sept., 2006, Trans-Dniester held a referendum in which voters called for the region's independence and union with Russia, but it had little effect on the stalemate concerning the region's status. After Moldova threatened (Nov., 2006) to link its trade dispute with Russia to Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization, Russia and Moldova reached an agreement under which the importation bans were lifted. In Apr., 2008, there were talks between the leaders of Moldova and Trans-Dniester following signs of an accommodation between Moldova and Russia over Moldovan ties with the West. Further talks have been held since then, but have produced no significant change in the situation.

In Apr., 2009, the Communists again won the parliamentary elections, with roughly half the vote and 60 seats. The opposition accused the government of fraud and demanded a recount or a re-vote, and protests in the capital turned violent, leading to the storming of government buildings. The president accused Romania fomenting the violence, which Romania angrily denied; Moldova also expelled the Romanian ambassador. After the violence, President Voronin, who had rejected a recount, called for one. The recount confirmed the results, but the opposition called the recount procedure too narrow and boycotted it. The Communists, however, lacked enough seats in parliament to elect a president, and after two unsuccessful votes, parliament was dissolved in June and new elections called for July.

Although the Communists won a plurality of the seats, three pro-European opposition parties combined won a majority. In September, Voronin, who had remained on as acting president, resigned, and Mihai Ghimpu, the parliamentary speaker elected by the pro-European coalition, became acting president. The governing coalition, however, also was unable to secure enough votes to elect a president. A Sept., 2010, referendum on electing the president by direct popular vote failed to secure a large enough turnout to be binding, and parliament was subsequently dissolved.

Elections in November again gave a majority to the pro-European coalition, but not enough to guarantee that they could elect a president. Marian Lupu was elected parliamentary speaker in Jan., 2011, and became acting president; subsequent attempts to elect a president were unsuccessful until Mar., 2012, when Nicolae Timofti, a senior judge, was narrowly elected to the office. Disagreements in the governing coalition led the government to lose a confidence vote in Mar., 2013, and the cabinet resigned. In May a new government was formed.

Russia banned Moldova's wine and spirites in Sept., 2013, saying they contained impurities, but the ban as seen as political one resulting from Russia's displeasure with Moldova's moves toward joining the European Union. The move in 2014 by Trans-Dniester to seek Russian annexation (after Crimea was occupied and annexed) was denounced by Moldova. Moldova signed a partnership agreement with the European Union in June, 2014. In July, Russia signed several agreements with Trans-Dniester and announced it would seek closer ties with the breakaway region; it also banned imports of fresh fruit from Moldova and subsequently imposed import duties on Moldovan products.

In the Nov., 2014, election the governing coalition won a narrow majority, but the election was marred by the banning, on charges of being financed from abroad, of a new pro-Russian party that was popular with many voters. Two of the former governing parties formed a minority government in Feb., 2015, with the support of the Communist party, but questions about the educational credentials of Chiril Gaburici, the prime minister, led to his resignation in June.

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Moldova

Moldova

Official name: Republic of Moldova

Area: 33,843 square kilometers (13,067 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Balănesti (430 meters/1,410 feet)

Lowest point on land: Dniester River (2 meters/6.6 feet)

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 2 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 150 kilometers (90 miles) from east to west; 340 kilometers (210 miles) from north to south

Land boundaries: 1,389 kilometers (864 miles) total boundary length; Romania 450 kilometers (280 miles); Ukraine 939 kilometers (583 miles)

Coastline: None

Territorial sea limits: None

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

Moldova is a comh2etely landlocked country of about 33,843 square kilometers (13,067 square miles) in area; after Armenia, it is the second-smallest republic of the former U.S.S.R. It is located in southeastern Europe, east of Romania and north, west, and northeast of Ukraine. The country's entire border with Romania lies along the Prut River in the west; on the east, the Dniester (Nistru) River follows some of the northern border with Ukraine, but it flows mostly within the nation's eastern region.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Moldova has no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

The Moldovan climate is continental, with conditions kept somewhat moderate by the influence of the Black Sea. Winters are generally dry and mild, with average daily temperatures in January ranging from 5°C to 3°C (3°F to 27°F). The long summers are warm; average daily temperatures in July exceed 20°C (68°F), and daily highs may even reach 40°C (104°F). Precipitation in Moldova is typically light and sometimes irregular, often resulting in dry spells. Rainfall is lightest in the south, on average 35 centimeters (14 inches) per year. At higher elevations, it can exceed 60 centimeters (20 inches). Early summer and October are the rainy seasons, with heavy showers and thunderstorms common, often causing erosion and river silting.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Moldova is mostly a hilly plain cut by the deep valleys of many rivers and streams. In general, the terrain slopes gradually south toward the Black Sea, although the country is separated from the sea by a narrow arm of Ukraine. Moldova's average elevation is only 147 meters (482 feet) above sea level.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Moldova is a landlocked nation and thus borders no oceans or seas.

6 INLAND LAKES

Lake Stânca-Costesti, through which the Prut River flows, lies on the Moldovan-Romanian border in northwest Moldova. Two other lakes fed by the Prut in Moldova are the Manta and the Beleu. The Manta is a valuable fish spawning area; in fact, both of these lakes have been slated for wetlands protection by the Moldovan government.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

Moldova has more than three thousand rivers and streams, but only eight are longer than 100 kilometers (60 miles). The two largest rivers are the Dniester (called the Nistru in Moldova) and the Prut, which both originate in the Carpathian Mountains north of Moldova in Ukraine. The longer Nistru flows south through eastern Moldova. It forms a short section of the Moldova/Ukraine border in the northeast, flows into Moldova, then borders Ukraine again in the southeast. It finally reenters Ukraine in the south shortly before emptying into the Black Sea. The second-longest river is the Prut, a major tributary of the Danube River. The Prut River forms Moldova's entire border with Romania before flowing south into the Danube. Like the Nistru, the Prut originates in the Carpathian Mountains in southwestern Ukraine; it flows a total distance of 909 kilometers (564 miles). Smaller Moldovan rivers include the Ialpug, the Bâc, and the Răut.

8 DESERTS

Moldova has no deserts.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

Moldova's hills are more accurately described as rolling, hilly plains that rise in elevation to the north as they approach the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. The hill country is cut by deep ravines and gullies from the country's many rivers and streams.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

Moldova is a generally low-lying country with no real mountain systems. Its highest point, Mount Balănesti, rises to 430 meters (1,410 feet) amid the Codri Hills of west-central Moldova.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

Scientists have explored and documented a number of caves in northern Moldova. The largest is the Emil Racovita Cave located near an area of karst topography in the Edinet region. Archaeological digs have dated the Brinzeni Caves, also in the Edinet region, to the Paleolithic era.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

Southern Moldova lies in an area called the Bugeac Steppe. However, in Moldova essentially the entire steppe zone has been cultivated.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

The ruins of a medieval town have been unearthed at Tribuzheni, near Orhei on the Raut River.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Dawisha, Karen, and Bruce Parrot. Democratic Changes and Authoritarian Reactions in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Hawks, Tony. Playing the Moldovans at Tennis. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2001.

Sheehan, Patricia. Moldova. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2000.

Web Sites

International Language Training Center. http://www.cepd.soros.md/moldova.htm (accessed April 24, 2003).

Moldova Country Guide. http://www.moldova.4pla.net/ (accessed April 24, 2003).

The Republic of Moldova Site. http://www.moldova.org/ (accessed April 24, 2003).

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Moldova

Moldova

area:

33,700 sq km (13,010 sq mi)

population:

4,247,200

capital (population):

Chisinau (711,700)

government:

Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Moldovan 65%, Ukrainian 14%, Russian 13%, Gagauz 4%, Jewish 2%, Bulgarian

languages:

Moldovan (Romanian) (official)

religions:

Christianity (Eastern Orthodox)

currency:

Leu

Republic in e Europe; the capital is Chisinau.

Land and climate

Moldova is a mostly hilly country. A large plain covers the s. The main river is the Dniester, which flows through e Moldova. The climate is moderately continental, with warm summers and fairly cold winters. Most rainfall occurs during the warmer months. Forests of hornbeam and oak grow in n and central Moldova. In the drier s, most of the region is now used for farming, with rich pasture along the rivers.

History and Politics

(for history pre-1991, see Moldavia) Following independence in 1991, the majority Moldovan population wished to rejoin Romania, but this alienated the Ukrainian and Russian populations e of the Dniester, who declared their independence from Moldova as the Transdniester Republic. War raged between the two, with Transdniester supported by the Russian 14th Army. In August 1992, a cease-fire was declared. The former communists of the Agrarian Democratic Party won multiparty elections in 1994. A referendum rejected reunification with Romania. Parliament voted to join the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In 1994 a new constitution established a presidential parliamentary republic. In 1995, Transdniester voted in favour of independence in a referendum. In 1996, Russian troops began their withdrawal and Petru Lucinschi was elected president. In 2001 Moldova became the first former Soviet state to elect a communist president, Vladimir Voronin.

Economy

Moldova is a lower-middle income developing economy (2002 GDP per capita, US$2500). Agriculture is important and major products include fruits and grapes for wine-making. Farmers also raise livestock, including dairy cattle and pigs. Moldova has no major natural resources and has to import materials and fuels for its industries. Major manufactures include agricultural machinery and consumer goods. Exports include food, wine, and tobacco.

Political map

Physical map

Websites

http://www.moldova.md; http://www.moldovaembassy.org

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Moldova

Moldova

Culture Name

Moldovan

Alternative Names

Moldavian, Romanian, Bessarabian. Moldavia is the Anglicized version of the Russian Moldavija and is not used by Moldovans. Many Moldovans consider themselves, their culture, and their language Romanian. Moldovans/Romanians in the region between the rivers Prut and Dniestr sometimes call themselves Bessarabians.

Orientation

Identification. The principality of Moldova was founded around 1352 by the Transylvanian ruler (voievod ) Dragoş in what today is the Romanian region of Bucovina. According to one legend, Dragoş successfully hunted a wild ox on the banks of the river Moldova and then chose to stay in the land, which he named after the river. The name "Moldova" probably derives from the German Mulde, "a deep river valley with high banks."

Location and Geography. The Republic of Moldova is a landlocked country between Romania and Ukraine that covers 13,199 square miles (33,845 square kilometers). It includes the Gagauz Autonomous Region in the south and the disputed Transdniestrian region in the east. The latter region separated from Moldova in 19911992 but did not gain official recognition. The capital, Chişinău, is in the center of the country and has 740,000 inhabitants. Chişinău was first mentioned in 1436 and was the capital of the Russian province of Bessarabia in the nineteenth century.

Moldova is on a fertile plain with small areas of hill country in the center and north. Only 9 percent of its territory is covered by forest, mostly in the middle. In the northern part, fertile black soil prevails and the primary crop is sugar beet. In the central and southern zones, wine making and tobacco growing are widespread. The temperate continental climate in the center of the country, with long warm summers, relatively mild winters, and high rainfall, is favorable for agriculture. The semiarid Budjak steppe in the south has drought problems. The main rivers are the Dniestr in the east and the Prut in the west. Both originate in the Carpathians; whereas the Dniestr flows directly into the Black Sea, the Prut joins the Danube at the southern tip of the country.

Demography. Moldova has 4.32 million inhabitants. In the 1989 census, 64.5 percent of the population was Moldovan, 13.8 percent Ukrainian, 13 percent Russian, 3.5 percent Gagauz (a Christian Orthodox Turkic people), 2 percent Bulgarian, 1.5 percent Jewish, and 1.7 percent other nationalities, mainly Belarussians, Poles, Greeks, Germans, and Rom (Gypsies). Although the official number of Rom is only 11,600, the real number probably is 100,000. There are few concentrated Rom settlements in Moldova, and the degree of linguistic assimilation (Russian or Moldovan) is high. The Ukrainian population traditionally settled in the north and east. Gagauz and Bulgarians have concentrated settlements in the southern Budjak region. The Russian population, for the most part workers and professionals brought to Moldova after World War II, is concentrated in Chişinău, Bălţi, and the industrial zones of Transdniestria. Jews have lived in Moldovan cities in great numbers since the early nineteenth century, but many have left. Between 1990 and 1996, Moldova experienced a total migration loss of 105,000 persons. Jews, Ukrainians, and Russians were the most likely to leave. Consequently, the Moldovan portion of the population was believed to have increased to 67 percent by 1998. The population density is the highest in the territory of the former Soviet Union.

Linguistic Affiliation. As a written language, Moldovan is classified as being Romanian, a Daco-Romanian language in the family of eastern Romance languages. As a subdialect of Daco-Romanian, Moldovan is spoken not only in the Republic of Moldova but in the entire territory of the former principality. It displays dialectical features particular to its geographic region and exhibits influences on its grammar and vocabulary from Russian and Ukrainian, languages with which it has been in contact for centuries. Since the fourteenth century, Moldovan has been the traditional name of the language spoken by the population of this region. Until the early seventeenth century, Church Slavonic was used in official documents, but it was slowly replaced by Moldovan, which was written in Cyrillic at that time. When the principalities of Valachia and Moldova united in 1859, the Latin alphabet was introduced for Romanian. In the eastern part of Moldova, which became the Russian province of Bessarabia in 1812, the language continued to be called Moldovan and the Cyrillic alphabet was used until Bessarabia joined the Romanian kingdom in 1918. After the Soviet annexation of Bessarabia in 19401944, the Cyrillic alphabet was reintroduced. Intensive Russification and a policy aimed at showing that Moldovan and Romanian were different languages led to a deterioration in the "purity" of the language spoken by the majority of the population. Russian loan words were used widely, especially in technical fields, and Moldovan became a "kitchen language." Moldovans who were educated in Russian-speaking schools still have difficulty expressing themselves in areas other than daily encounters. Russification and "de-Romanization" were considerably more pronounced in urban than in rural areas, but those policies were resisted by Moldovan intellectuals, who upheld the use of their language. The national awakening that took place in the late 1980s led directly to the adoption of a language law on 30 August 1989 that defined Moldovan, written in the Latin script, as the state language. Although the language is still officially named "Moldovan," considerable re-Romanization has made the difference between Romanian and Moldovan virtually a distinction between a standard written language and a dialect. Cyrillic is used to write Moldovan only in the separatist region of Transdniestria. Ordinary Moldovans on the right bank of the Dniestr, however, may use Cyrillic for private notes or letters, especially if they are 40 to 60 years of age and uneducated. Despite the change of state language, very few non-Moldovan residents are fluent in Moldovan, and many have a negative attitude toward that language. Between 1940 and 1989, Russian was the lingua franca. The introduction of new requirements in 1989 aimed at fostering the use of Moldovan was widely regarded as forceful Romanization and conjured unhappy memories of Romanian rule in Bessarabia. Fears of possible unification with Romania also played a major role. The political battle over the future status of the Moldovan and Russian languages is deeply connected with the conflicts that arose in 1990 between the central government and separatist movements in Gagauzia and Transdniestria. The language issue remains highly politicized, and attitudes toward Moldovan, especially when it is called Romanian, continue to be largely negative among the non-Moldovan population. Moldovans who were born and brought up after 1980 tend to speak less and less Russian, a development that could lead to growing problems of interethnic communication.

Symbolism. The national symbols represent over six hundred years of history as well as a close connection to Romania. The state flag is composed of the traditional Romanian colors of blue, yellow, and red. In the center is the republic's seal, consisting of the Romanian eagle with the historical Moldovan seal on its breast. Since the fourteenth century, the seal has consisted of an ox's head with a star between its horns, a rose to the right, and a crescent to the left. The national anthem was the same as that of Romania in the early years of independence but was changed to "Our Language" (Limba noastră ), which is also the name of the second most important secular holiday. Its name has a special integrating power in two respects: Language is the most important national symbol for Moldovans, and it evades the answer to the question of how this language should be labeled: Romanian or Moldovan. All these symbols, however, do not appeal to other ethnic groups and thus confine the idea of an "imagined community" to the titular nation.

In regard to the conflict over symbols between "Romanians" and "Moldovans," the ballad Mioriţa plays a crucial role. It tells the story of a Moldovan shepherd who is betrayed and murdered by two Romanian colleagues: For the Romanian side, this story is about an "incident in the family," while for the Moldovan side, it reproduces the distinction between the good, diligent, and peaceful Moldovan and the mean and criminal Romanian. Next to hospitality, diligence and peacefulness are the national characteristics Moldovans associate with themselves. When Moldovans want to show pride in their country, they refer mostly to the qualities of its wine and food and the beauty of its women. Wine is an especially powerful symbol, associated with quality, purity, and healing. The cellars of Cricova with their extensive collection of old wines are considered the state treasure. Moldovans are also eager to underscore their Latin heritage, expressed by the statue of a wolf feeding Romulus and Remus in front of the Museum of National History in Chiţinău.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. According to official historiography, the Republic of Moldova derives directly from the Moldovan principality that was founded by Dragoş and gained independence from the Hungarian kingdom under the Valachian voievod Bogdan I in 1359. The government thus celebrated the 640th anniversary of statehood in 1999. However, what is today the Republic of Moldova consists only of the central and eastern parts of the original principality. The Transdniestrian region was never part of the principality, but Moldovan colonists settled on the left bank of the Dniestr in the fifteenth century. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the principality extended from the Carpathians to the Dniestr. Under Stephen the Great (14571504), who defended the principality successfully against the Ottoman Empire, Moldova flourished. Many churches and monasteries were built under his regency. Stephen is regarded as the main national hero of contemporary Moldova. His statue stands in the city center of Chişinău, the main boulevard is named for him, and his picture is printed on every banknote. However, soon after Stephen died, Moldova lost its independence and became, like the neighboring principality of Valachia, a vassal state of Constantinople.

In the Treaty of Bucharest of 1812, the Ottoman Empire was forced to cede the area between the Prut and the Dniestr to the Russian Empire under the name Bessarabia. In 1859, western Moldova and Valachia formed the united principality of Romania, which gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878. Thus, the Moldovans in Bessarabia were excluded from the Romanian nation-building process and remained in an underdeveloped, remote, agricultural province of the Russian Empire. Only with the upheavals of the World War I and the October Revolution did the Moldovans of Bessarabia join the Romanian nation-state. The Moldovan parliament, the Sfatul Ţării, declared the independence of the "Democratic Republic of Moldova" on 24 January 1918 but then voted for union with Romania on 27 March 1918. The unification was mostly due to the desperate circumstances the young, unstable republic faced and was not applauded by all sections of the population. The following twenty-two years of Romanian rule are considered by many Moldovans and non-Moldovans as a period of colonization and exploitation. The subsequent period of Sovietization and Russification, however, is regarded as the darkest period in the national history. Stalin annexed Bessarabia in June 1940 and again in 1944, when the Soviet Union reconquered the area after temporary Romanian occupation. The northern and southern parts of Bessarabia were transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR), and in exchange the western part of what since 1924 had been the Moldovan Autonomous Socialist Republic on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR was given to the newly created Moldovan Socialist Soviet Republic. Having been ruled by foreign powers since the sixteenth century, Moldova declared its independence on 27 August 1991.

National Identity. After sentiments ran high in favor of unification with Romania at the beginning of the 1990s, the tide turned, and in a 1994 referendum 95 percent of the voters elected to retain independence. As a result of their close historical, linguistic, and cultural ties with Romania, many Moldovans see themselves as Romanian. At the same time, the one hundred eighty years of separation from Romania and the different influences Bessarabia has experienced since the early nineteenth century have preserved and reinforced a distinctive Moldovan identity east of the Prut. Unlike Romanians, a high percentage of Moldovans have an ethnically mixed family background. Consequently, probably less than 5 percent of the people consider themselves to have a pure Romanian identity, whereas another 5 to 10 percent would identify themselves as Moldovan in the sense of being outspokenly non-Romanian. The existence of these two groups is reflected in a fierce debate between "Unionists" and "Moldovanists." Most inhabitants of the titular nation consider their Moldovan identity as their central political one but their Romanian identity as culturally essential. Since discussions on unification with Romania have disappeared from the public agenda, the question of how to form a multi-ethnic nation-state is growing in importance.

Ethnic Relations. Bessarabia has always been a multiethnic region, and ethnic relations generally are considered good. Especially in the north, Moldovans and Ukrainians have lived together peacefully for centuries and share cultural features. In recent history, Moldova has rarely experienced ethnic violence; in April 1903, for example, 49 Jews were killed and several hundred injured during the Chişinău pogrom, but mainly by Russians rather than Moldovans. In the late 1980s, when support for the national movement began to grow, ethnic tension between Moldovans and non-Moldovans increased, initially in Transdniestria and Gagauzia and later in Chişinău and Bălţi. Whereas the conflict between Gagauz and Moldovans was kept below the level of large-scale violence, the Transdniestrian conflict escalated into a full-fledged civil war in spring 1992. More than a thousand people were said to have been killed, and over a hundred thousand had to leave their homes. Although this conflict had a strong ethnic component, it was not ethnic by nature; it was fought mainly between the new independence-minded political elite in Chişinău and conservative pro-Soviet forces in Tiraspol. Moldovans and non-Moldovans could be found on both sides. On the right bank of the Dniestr, where the majority of the Russian-speaking community lives, no violent clashes took place. Since the war, additional efforts have been made to include non-Moldovans in the nation-building process. The 1994 constitution and subsequent legislation safeguarded the rights of minorities, and in the same year broad autonomous powers were granted to the Gagauz.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Chişinău's city center was constructed in the nineteenth century by Russians. Official buildings and those erected by the early bourgeoisie are in a neoclassical style of architecture; there are also many small one-story houses in the center, and the outskirts are dominated by typical Soviet-style residential buildings. Small towns (mainly enlarged villages) also have examples of Soviet-style administration buildings and apartment blocks. Depending on their original inhabitants, villages have typical Moldovan, Ukrainian, Gagauz, Bulgarian, or German houses and a Soviet-style infrastructure (cultural center, school, local council buildings). Houses have their own gardens and usually their own vineyards and are surrounded by low metal ornamented bars. Interaction differs in urban and rural areas. In the villages, people are open and greet passersby without prior acquaintance; in the cities, there is a greater anonymity, although people interact with strangers in certain situations, for example, on public transportation.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Mamaliga, a hard corn porridge, is regarded as the national dish. It is poured onto a flat surface in the shape of a big cake and is served mainly with cheese, sour cream, or milk. Non-Moldovan inhabitants joke that Moldovans would be unhappy if they could not eat mamaliga once a week. The main foods in daily life are a mixture of vegetables and meat (chicken, goose, duck, pork, and lamb), but the availability of vegetables depends on the season. Filled cabbage and grape leaves as well as soups such as zama and the Russian borsch also form part of daily meals. Plăcintă is a pastry filled mainly with cheese, potatoes, or cabbage that often is sold on the streets. Restaurants in Chişinău offer Russian, Moldovan, and Jewish dishes along with an increasingly international cuisine.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Orthodox Christian baptisms, funerals, and weddings are accompanied by large gatherings where several meat and vegetable dishes, desserts, and cakes as well as wine are served. Homemade vodka and brandy also are offered. At Easter, a special bread, pasca, is baked in every household, and eggs are painted in various colors. Families go to the graveyard to celebrate their dead kin; they eat food at the graves while drinking wine and offering it to each other as they remember the dead.

Basic Economy. The national currency is the leu (100 bani ). Besides gypsum and very small gas and oil reserves, the country has no natural resources and is totally dependent on energy imports, mainly from Russia. Moldova has experienced a sharp downturn in its economy in the last ten years. In 1998, the gross domestic product (GDP) was 35 percent of the 1989 level, and the state is unable to pay pensions and salaries on time. As a result, more people produce food and other necessities for themselves now than in the 1980s. This includes virtually the entire rural population and many city dwellers who own small gardens in the countryside. The parallel economy is estimated to account for 20 to 40 percent of the GDP.

Land Tenure and Property. During the Soviet period, there was no private land, only state-owned collective farms. Since 1990, as part of the transition to a market economy, privatization of land as well as houses and apartments has taken place. However, the process is still under way and has faced fierce resistance from so-called agroindustrial complexes.

Commercial Activities. Moldova in general and Chişinău in particular have many traditional Balkan-style markets. There are mixed as well as specialized markets for food, flowers, spare parts, and construction materials. This "market economy" clearly outsells the regular shops. Besides foodstuffs, which are partially home-grown, all products are imported. These types of commercial activities are flourishing because of market liberalization and the economic downturn. Many educated specialists find it easier to earn money through commercial activities than by practicing their professions.

Major Industries. Industry is concentrated in the food-processing sector, wine making, and tobacco. Other fields include electronic equipment, machinery, textiles, and shoes. The small heavy industry sector includes a metallurgical plant in Transdniestria that produces high-quality steel.

Trade. The main trade partners are Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, and Germany. Russia and other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries accounted for 69 percent of exports and 58 percent of imports in 1998. Exports are mainly agroindustrial products (72 percent), especially wine, but also include shoes and textiles (12 percent). The main import goods are mineral products (31 percent), machinery and electronic equipment (19 percent), and chemical products (12 percent). To realign foreign trade away from Russia and toward Western European and other countries, Moldova has constructed an oil terminal on the Danube and is seeking closer economic ties with Romania and the European Union. It is expected to join the World Trade Organization.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Large landowners (boyars ) disappeared after the establishment of Soviet power. There is an emergent class of high-ranking officials and managers who had access to state enterprises or funds in the Soviet period and appropriated some of those resources during the transitional phase and young entrepreneurs who amassed wealth after the introduction of a market economy through new business ventures. Social stratification is determined mainly by economic and political power. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, those who had higher positions in the government tended to be Moldovans, while Russians dominated the private sector. Urban workers have maintained their rural connections and grow fruit and vegetables on small plots of land in the towns.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Newly built ornamented houses and villas, cars (especially Western cars with tinted windows), cellular telephones, and fashionable clothes are the most distinguishing symbols of wealth. Consumer goods brought from abroad (Turkey, Romania, Germany) function as status symbols in cities and rural areas.

Political Life

Government. Moldova is a democratic and unitary republic. Since the territorial-administrative reform of 1999, it has been divided into ten districts (judeţe ) and the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia. A special status is envisaged for the Transdniestrian region. The political system is mixed parliamentary-presidential, with the parliament (one hundred one representatives) and president both directly elected for a four-year period. The prime minister is appointed by the president only after the minister and his or her cabinet have received a vote of confidence from the parliamentary majority. The rights of the president to dissolve the parliament are very restricted. Some executive powers are vested in the president's hands: he or she can issue decrees and has special powers in defense and foreign policy. The delicate balance of power between parliament, government, and president is held to be responsible for the relatively high level of democracy as well as the blocking of important reform projects. Consequently, there have been discussions aimed at strengthening the powers of the president. Judicial powers are vested in the courts.

Leadership and Political Officials. Patrimonial structures and the Orthodox tradition of godfatherhood have strong political implications. Personal networks established over the years help people gain political posts, but such contacts also make them responsible for redistributing resources to the people who have backed them. Although kinship has a certain influence on these personal networks, relationships established in other ways during education and earlier work may be more important. Today's political forces have their roots either in the Moldovan Communist Party or in the national movement of the 1980s. The national movement started with the creation of the Alexe Mateevici Cultural Club in 1988 as an intellectual opposition group. In less than a year, it evolved into a broad mass movement known as the Popular Front of Moldova. Although the party system has experienced striking fluctuations in the last ten years, the main political forces have in essence remained the same. The Communist Party, whose place was taken temporarily by the Agrarian Democratic Party, is still one of the strongest political players. It has a mixed ethnic background and is backed mainly by the agroindustrial complexes. It is opposed to privatization and other reforms and strongly favors the idea of "Moldovanism." At the opposite end of the political spectrum are the Christian Democratic Popular Front and the Party of Democratic Forces. Both derive directly from the Moldovan national movement and have no former communists in their ranks. The Front favors unification with Romania and advocates liberal market reforms and democratization. The Party of Democratic Forces also favors stronger ties with Romania and the West but has abandoned the idea of unification; it too blends market reforms with social democratic ideas. The former president, Mircea Snegur (19921996), a previous Communist Party secretary and the "father" of Moldovan independence, has been joined in his Party for Rebirth and Reconciliation by other former communists who switched to the national movement early on. Petru Lucinschi, who was elected president in 1996, held high posts in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and has extensive, well-established connections among the social-democrat-oriented former political elite. Unlike Snegur, he and the parties associated with him are widely trusted by non-Moldovan voters. In Moldovan politics everybody knows each other and personal interests, sympathies, and antipathies as well as tactical reshuffles play an important role.

Social Problems and Control. The economic crisis resulted in an increase in poverty, theft, and petty and large-scale racketeering. Illegal cultivation of opium poppies and cannabis takes place on a limited basis, with both being trafficked to other CIS countries and Western Europe. In the villages, where people relate to one another in a less anonymous way, hearsay and gossip are effective tools of social control.

Military Activity. The army consists of 8,500 ground and air defense troops and has no tanks. As a landlocked country, Moldova has no navy, and after it sold nearly its entire fleet of MIG-29 fighters to the United States in 1997, it was left practically without an air force. The 1999 budget allocated only $5 million to defense spending, 2 percent of the total budget. The Republic of Moldova takes part in the NATO Partnership for Peace Program but has no plans to join either NATO or the CIS military structure. Although it is a neutral country and the constitution rules out the stationing of foreign military forces on Moldovan soil, Russian troops are still stationed in Transdniestria.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

A system of social security covering unemployment benefits, health care, and pensions for the elderly and the disabled as well as assistance for low-income families has been set up. However, the level of social benefits is very low, and they are not paid in time because of the socioeconomic crisis. National and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) aid orphans and street children.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Several international NGOs are active, especially in the fields of human rights and development. There are several local NGOs, most of which are small and inefficient. A Contact Center tries to coordinate the activities of the Moldovan NGO community. NGOs are frequently politically biased and get involved in political campaigns. Many NGO activists often see their organizations principally as vehicles for the pursuit of their own interests.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Women in both urban and rural areas carry the burden of domestic duties and child care in addition to working outside the home. As a result of tradition and economic necessity, women engage in domestic food-processing activities in the summer to provide home-canned food for the winter months.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Although men seemingly have more decision-making power in the public and private spheres, women act as the organizers of daily and ritual life. They organize social gatherings, gift-giving relations, and the infrastructure of numerous official and semiofficial events. There are no moral restrictions on women's participation in public life, although many women choose not to have executive positions and give priority to their domestic duties.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. When a young couple decides to marry, it is not unusual for the girl to go to her boyfriend's house and stay there. The next day her parents are informed about this, and the families come together to agree on the marriage. It can take a couple of months before the civil and religious wedding ceremonies are held. Divorce is common, and many women have to earn a living on their own after being abandoned by their husbands without the marriage being officially dissolved.

Domestic Unit. Newlyweds usually live together with the groom's parents until they can build a house in the village or rent an apartment in town. In the villages, there is a general rule of ultimogeniture (the youngest son and his family live with the parents, and he inherits the contents of the household).

Inheritance. Inheritance is regulated by law. Children inherit equally from their parents, although males may inherit the house of their parents if they live in the same household.

Kin Groups. Relatives support each other in performing agricultural and other tasks as well as ceremonial obligations. The godparenthood system regulates the mutual obligations between the parties. Godparents are responsible for the children they baptize throughout life-cycle rituals, especially marriage and the building of a house. Godparenthood is inherited between generations; however, it is also common for this role to be negotiated independently of previous ties.

Socialization

Infant Care. Babies are taken care of by their mothers and grandmothers. In villages, babies are wrapped in blankets during the very early months, and cloth diapers are used. Toddlers walk around freely, and their clothes are changed when they wet themselves.

Child Rearing and Education. Children generally grow up close to their grandparents, who teach them songs and fairy tales. Girls are expected to help their mothers from an early age and also take care of smaller siblings. A good child is expected to be God-fearing and shy and does not participate in adult conversations without being asked to do so.

Higher Education. A few universities remain from the Soviet period, together with about fifty technical and vocational schools. As a result of economic difficulties, people sometimes complete higher education in their late thirties, after establishing a family. The College of Wine Culture is a popular educational institution that offers high-quality training.

Etiquette

It is proper to drink at least a symbolic amount of wine during a meal or in a ritual context to honor the host and toast the health of the people present. Occasionally in villages, toasting with the left hand may not be regarded as proper. It is improper to blow one's nose at the table. Smoking in private homes is an uncommon practice; both hosts and guests usually go outside or onto the balcony to smoke. In villages, it is highly improper for women to smoke in public. People usually acknowledge passersby in the villages irrespective of previous acquaintance.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. The majority of the population, including non-Moldovans, are Orthodox Christians (about 98 percent). There are a small number of Uniates, Seventh-Day Adventists, Baptists, Pentecostalists, Armenian Apostolics, and Molokans. Jews have engaged in religious activities after independence with a newly opened synagogue and educational institutions.

Religious Practitioners. During the interwar period, Moldovans belonged to the Romanian Orthodox Church, but they now belong to the Russian Orthodox Church. There is an ongoing debate about returning to the Bucharest Patriarchate. Priests play an important role in the performance of ritual activities. In the villages, there are female healers who use Christian symbols and practices to treat the sick.

Rituals and Holy Places. The Orthodox calendar dictates rules and celebrations throughout the year, such as Christmas, Easter, and several saints' days. Some of the rules include fasting or avoiding meat and meat fat as well as restrictions on washing, bathing, and working at particular times. Baptisms, weddings, and funerals are the most important life-cycle rituals and are combined with church attendance and social gatherings. Easter is celebrated in the church and by visiting the graveyards of kin. Candles are an inseparable part of rituals; people buy candles when they enter the church and light them in front of the icons or during rituals.

Death and the Afterlife. The dead are dressed in their best clothes. Ideally, the corpse is watched over for three days and visited by relatives and friends. A mixture of cooked wheat and sugar called colivă is prepared and offered to the guests. If possible, the ninth, twentieth, and fortieth days; the third, sixth, and ninth months; and the year after the death are commemorated. However, this usually depends on the religiosity and financial resources of the people concerned. Graveyards are visited often, wine is poured on the graves, and food and colivă are distributed in memory of the dead.

Medicine and Health Care

Modern medicine is widely used. Health care is poor because of the state of the economy.

Secular Celebrations

Major holidays include New Year's (1 January), Women's Day (8 March), Worker's Day (1 May), Victory Day (9 May), Independence Day (27 August), and Limba noastră ("Our Language"), a celebration of the national language (31 August).

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. In the Soviet period, state funds provided workshops for painters and other artists, who were guaranteed a regular income. This practice has ceased, and funds for workshops and other financial support are very limited. However, artists have better opportunities to sell to foreigners and the new business elites. National and international sponsors provide more encouragement for artistic activity than does the state.

Literature. The most important work of early literature is the ballad Mioriţa. Oral literature and folklore were prevalent until the nineteenth century. This and the classical Moldovan literature of the nineteenth century can hardly be distinguished from Romanian literature. The greatest Romanian writer, Mihai Eminescu, was born in the western part of Moldova and is perceived by Moldovans as part of their national heritage. Other renowned Moldovan writers include Alexei Mateevici, the author of the poem "Limba noastră ;" the playwright Vasile Alecsandri; the novelist Ion Creangă and the historian Alexandru Hâjdeu. Ion Druţa, Nicolae Dabija, Leonida Lari, Dumitru Matcovschi, and Grigorie Vieru are regarded as the greatest contemporary writers and poets.

Graphic Arts. Besides the painted monasteries around Suceava (Romania), sixteenth-century icons are the oldest examples of Moldovan graphic arts. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the sculptor Alexandru Plămădeală and the architect A. Şciusev added their work to the heritage of Bessarabian arts. Bessarabian painters of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries concentrated on landscapes and rural themes as well as typical motifs of Soviet realism. Since the recent changes, however, young modern artists such as Valeriu Jabinski, Iuri Matei, Andrei Negur, and Gennadi Teciuc have demonstrated the potential and quality of Moldovan art.

Performance Arts. Folkloristic and classic music dominate, but Western music, especially jazz, is widely performed. The Soviet system helped popularize a systematic musical education, and people from all sections of society listen to and perform music of different styles. The opera singer Maria Bieşu, the folklore ensemble LauŢării, the folklore dance ensemble Joc, and the dance ensemble Codreanca have become famous outside the country. Folklore and classical concerts are relatively cheap and are attended by young and old people of different social statuses. Rock and pop concerts are expensive but attract many young people.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The Academy of Science was the traditional place for research in Soviet Moldova. In an agricultural country, particular stress was placed on agriculture-related sciences, and a special Agricultural University was established for the education of specialists and for research in that field. After the political transition, the State University was reorganized and private universities, focusing mainly on economic subjects, were established.

Bibliography

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. Nations-Nationalities-People: A Study of the Nationalities Policy of the Communist Party in Soviet Moldavia, 1984.

. The Republic of Moldavia from the Collapse of the Soviet Empire to the Restoration of the Russian Empire, 1997.

. Chinn, Jeff. "The Case of Transdniestr." In Lena Jonson and Clive Archer, eds., Peacekeeping and the Role of Russia, 1996.

and Steve Ropers. "Ethnic Mobilization and Reactive Nationalism: The Case of Moldova." Nationalities Papers 23 (2): 291325, 1995.

Crowther, William. "Ethnic Politics and the Post-Communist Transition in Moldova." Nationalities Papers 26 (1): 147164, 1998.

. "Moldova: Caught between Nation and Empire." In Ian Bremmer and Ray Tarasm, eds., New States, New PoliticsBuilding the Post-Soviet Nations, 1997.

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Dima, Nicholas. "Recent Ethno Demographic-Changes in Soviet Moldavia." East European Quarterly 25 (2): 167178, 1991.

. From Moldavia to Moldova, 1991.

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Dyer, Donald L., ed. Studies in Moldovan: The History, Culture, Language and Contemporary Politics of the People of Moldova, 1996.

. "What Price Languages in Contact?: Is There Russian Language Influence on the Syntax of Moldovan?" Nationalities Papers 26 (1): 7584, 1998.

Eyal, Jonathan. "Moldavians." In Graham Smith, ed., The Nationalities Question in the Soviet Union, 1990.

Feldman, Walter. "The Theoretical Basis for the Definition of Moldavian Nationality." In Ralph S. Clem, ed., The Soviet West: Interplay between Nationality and Social Organization, 1978.

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Grupp, Fred W. and Ellen Jones. "Modernisation and Ethnic Equalisation in the USSR." Soviet Studies 26 (2): 159184, 1984.

Hamm, Michael F. "Kishinev: The Character and Development of a Tsarist Frontier Town." Nationalities Papers 26 (1): 1937, 1998.

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HÜlya Demirdirek and Claus Neukirch

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Moldova

Moldova

MOLDOVANS 25

The people of Moldova are called Moldovans. About 65 percent are ethnic Moldovans. Other groups include Ukrainians (about 14 percent) and Russians (about 13 percent). For more information on Ukrainians, see the chapter on Ukraine in Volume 9; on the Russians, see the chapter on Russia in Volume 7.

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Moldova

Moldovaaquiver, downriver, forgiver, giver, quiver, river, shiver, sliver, upriver •silver • mitzvah • lawgiver • Oliver •miniver, Nineveh •quicksilver •conniver, contriver, diver, driver, fiver, Godiva, Ivor, jiver, Liver, reviver, saliva, skiver, striver, survivor, viva •skydiver • slave-driver • piledriver •screwdriver •bovver, hover •Moskva •revolver, solver •windhover •Canova, Casanova, clover, Dover, drover, Grsbover, Jehovah, left-over, Markova, Moldova, moreover, Navrátilová, nova, ova, over, Pavlova, rover, trover, up-and-over •layover • flyover • handover •changeover •makeover, takeover •walkover • spillover • pullover •Hanover • turnover • hangover •wingover • sleepover • slipover •popover, stopover •Passover • crossover • once-over •pushover • leftover

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Moldova

MOLDOVA

MOLDOVA (formerly Moldavia), independent democratic republic belonging to the cis, which proclaimed its independence in May 1990. In 1979 it had 80,100 Jews and in 1989–65,800 (of whom 35,700 lived in Kishinev). Emigration in 1989 was 4,304 (3,702 from Kishinev). Immigration to Israel in 1990 amounted to 12,080 (7,578 from Kishinev); the corresponding figures the following year were 17,305 and 9,487. The estimated Jewish population at the end of 1991 was 28,500.

The first Jewish organizations in Moldova included the Moldova-Israel Friendship Association (established in November 1991), the Moldova-Israel Foreign Trade Association, and the Jewish Museum. The monthly Jewish newspaper Nashgolos began appearing in March 1990. In June of that year the paper printed an interview with Prime Minister Mircea Druk, who stated that he had never concealed his revulsion for antisemitism and stressed the need to normalize relations between Moldovans and Jews. The prime minister also came out in favor of education in Hebrew for Jews in the republic.

Moldovan Jews appeared to be concerned about their future. Not a single Jew was elected to the Supreme Soviet in 1990. A law was passed making knowledge of the Moldovian language mandatory: this created difficulties for the basically Russian-speaking Moldovan Jews. Intensive Jewish emigration was renewed in mid-1992 in the wake of fighting in Transnistria. Both the Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency began operating in Kishinev. Direct flights from Moldova to Israel started in January 1992.

At the end of 1993 there were an estimated 15,000 Jews in the Republic of Moldova, and by 2000 their number had dropped to 5,200. In an effort to revive Jewish life, a Chabadrun synagogue opened its doors to the community.

In March 1994 the old Jewish cemetery was desecrated in Kishinev. There were several instances of anti-Jewish violence.

bibliography:

U.O. Schmelz and S. DellaPergola in ajyb, 1995, 478; Supplement to the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, 2, 1995, Jerusalem; M. Beizer and I. Klimenko, in Jews in Eastern Europe, 1 (24) 1995, 25–33; Antisemitism World Report 1995, London: Institute of Jewish Affairs, 167.

[Michael Beizer/

Dan Rom (2nd ed.)]

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Moldova

Moldova

PROFILE
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
DEFENSE AND MILITARY ISSUES
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-MOLDOVAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the October 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Republic of Moldova

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 33,843 sq. km. (13,000 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Maryland.

Cities: Capital—Chisinau.

Terrain: Rolling steppe, gradual slope south to Black Sea.

Climate: Moderate winters, warm summers.

Time Zone: GMT+2

People

Nationality: Noun—Moldovan(s). Adjective—Moldovan.

Population: (January 2006) 3.39 million, excluding the estimated Transnistrian population of 537,000.

Population growth rate: 0.5% (2005).

Ethnic groups: (2004 census) Moldovan (83.7%), Ukrainian (6.6%), Russian (1.7%), Gagauz (4.5%), Bulgarian (1.7%), Romanian (1.4%), other (0.4%).

Religions: Christian Orthodox (93.3%), Baptist (1%), Adventist, Roman Catholic, Jewish.

Languages: Romanian (officially known as Moldovan), Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz.

Education: Literacy—96%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—12/ 1,000. Life expectancy-68.4 years.

Work force: (1.3 million) Agriculture—41%; industry—12%; other—47%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Constitution: Adopted July 28, 1994.

Independence: August 27, 1991 (from Soviet Union).

Government branches: Executive—President (head of state), Prime Minister (head of Government), Government (cabinet). Legislative—unicameral Parliament. Judicial—Supreme Court.

Political subdivisions: 32 counties (raions), 4 municipalities, and one autonomous territorial unit.

Political parties: Communist Party, Christian Democratic People's Party, Our Moldova Alliance, Democratic Party, Social Liberal Party, Social-Democratic Party and the Party for Social Democracy.

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2006) $3.35 billion ($2.9 billion in 2005; $2.6 billion in 2004).

GDP real growth rate: (January-June 2007) 8.0% (5.0% in 2006; 8.6% in 2005; 6.5% in 2004).

Per capita GDP: (2006) $937 ($890 in 2005; $766 in 2004: $540 in 2003).

Natural resources: Lignite, phosphates, gypsum, arable land, and limestone.

Agriculture: Products—vegetables, fruits, wine and spirits, grain, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, meat, milk, eggs, tobacco, walnuts.

Industry: Types—processed foods and beverages, including wine and refined sugar; processed fruit and vegetable products, including vegetable oil; dairy and meat products; tobacco items; metal processing and production of machinery; textiles and clothing, shoes; furniture.

Trade: (2006) Exports—$1,051.6 million (of which 50% go to countries outside the former Soviet Union) foodstuffs, wine, textiles, clothing, footwear and machinery. Major markets—Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Italy, Belarus, Germany. Imports—$2,693.2 million (of which 60% come from countries outside the former Soviet Union) gas, oil, coal, steel, machinery and equipment, chemical products, textiles, foodstuffs, automobiles, and other consumer durables. Major suppliers—Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Germany, Italy. Currency: Moldovan Leu (plural Lei).

Exchange rate: Leu/US$ (2006) average 13.13; 12.91 (end of year); 12.60 (average in 2005); 12.33 (average in 2004); 13.94 (average in 2003).

PEOPLE AND HISTORY

Ethnic groups represented in Moldova include Moldovan/Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Gagauz, and Bulgarian. Romanian (officially known as Moldovan) is the official language; Russian, Ukrainian, and Gagauz also are spoken. The great majority of Moldova's population is Christian Orthodox —90% of the population nominally belongs to one of the two main Orthodox denominations. The Moldovan Orthodox Church, an autonomous diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church and loyal to the Patriarch of Moscow, has 1,194 parishes; the Bessarabian Orthodox Church, affiliated with the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate in Bucharest, has 124 parishes. In addition, followers of the Old Rite Russian Orthodox Church (Old Believers) make up approximately 3.6% of the population.

The Republic of Moldova occupies most of what has been known as Bessarabia. Moldova's location has made it a historic passageway between Asia and southern Europe, as well as the victim of frequent warfare. Greeks, Romans, Huns, and Bulgars invaded the area, which in the 13th century became part of the Mongol empire. An independent Moldovan state emerged briefly in the 14th century under celebrated leader Stefan the Great but subsequently fell under Ottoman Turkish rule in the 16th century.

After the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12, the eastern half of Moldova (Bessarabia) between the Prut and the Dniester Rivers was ceded to Russia, while Romanian Moldavia (west of the Prut) remained with the Turks. Romania, which gained independence in 1878, took control of Russian-ruled Bessarabia in 1918. The Soviet Union never recognized the action and created an autonomous Moldavian republic on the east side of the Dniester River in 1924.

In 1940, Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), which established the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic by merging the autonomous republic east of the Dni-ester and the annexed Bessarabian portion. Stalin also stripped the three southern counties along the Black Sea coast from Moldova and incorporated them in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Romania sought to regain Bessarabia by joining with Germany in the 1941 attack on the Soviet Union. On June 22, 1941, German and Romanian troops crossed the border and deportations of the Jews from Bessarabia began immediately. By September 1941, most of the Jews of Bessarabia and Bukovina had been transported in convoys and force marched to concentration camps in Transnistria. About 185,000 Jews were in the Transnistria area in concentration camps by 1942 in abysmal conditions. Very few were left alive in these camps when the Soviets reoccupied Bessarabia in 1944.

In September 1990, the Supreme Soviet elected Mircea Snegur as President of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova. A former Communist Party official, he endorsed independence from the Soviet Union and actively sought Western recognition. On May 23, 1991, the Supreme Soviet renamed itself the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, which subsequently declared its independence from the U.S.S.R.

In August 1991, Moldova's transition to democracy initially had been impeded by an ineffective Parliament, the lack of a new constitution, a separatist movement led by the Gagauz (Christian Turkic) minority in the south, and unrest in the Transnistria region on the left bank of the Nistru/Dniester River, where a separatist movement declared a “Transdniester Moldovan Republic” in September 1990. The Russian 14th Army intervened to stem widespread violence and support the Transnistrian regime which is led by supporters of the 1991 coup attempt in Moscow. In 1992, the government negotiated a cease-fire arrangement with Russian and Transnistrian officials, although tensions continue, and negotiations are ongoing. In February 1994, new legislative elections were held, and the ineffective Parliament that had been elected in 1990 to a 5-year term was replaced. A new constitution was adopted in July 1994. The conflict with the Gagauz minority was defused by the granting of local autonomy in 1994.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

In 2000, Parliament passed a decree making Moldova a parliamentary republic, with the president elected by Parliament instead of by popular vote. Widespread popular dissatisfaction with previous governments and economic hardship led to a surprise at the polls in February 2001. In elections certified by international observers as free and fair, slightly over half of Moldova's voters cast their ballots for the Communist Party. Under the rules of Moldova's proportional representation system, the Communist faction, which in the previous Parliament consisted of 40 of Parliament's 101 seats, jumped to 71 — a clear majority. The Parliament then elected the leader of the Communist faction, Vladimir Voro-nin, to be President.

President Voronin's first term was marked by up and down relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Politically, the government was committed to the reduction of poverty by allocating more resources to social safety net items such as health, education, and increasing pensions and salaries. Voronin proceeded with former President Lucinschi's plans to privatize several important state-owned industries and even on occasion broke with his own party over important issues. Under President Voronin, relations with the United States have remained strong. From January to April 2002, large demonstrations took place in opposition to several controversial government proposals, including expanded use of the Russian language in schools and its designation as an official language. While the demonstrations were sometimes tense, the government did not use force and ultimately agreed to Council of Europe (CoE) mediation.

In March 2005 parliamentary elections, the Communist Party received 46.1% of the vote, or 56 seats in the 101-member Parliament —more than enough for the 51-vote minimum required to form a government, but short of the 61 votes necessary to elect a president. However, President Voronin was re-elected with support from the Christian Democratic People's Party and from the Democratic and Social Liberal party factions, after Voronin promised to deliver on needed reforms and Euro-Atlantic integration for the country. These defections broke apart the opposition unity of the pre-election Moldovan Democratic Bloc, led by Our Moldova Alliance (AMN) faction leader and former Chisinau Mayor Serafim Ure-chean.

Nationwide local elections in June 2007 showed improvement over nationwide parliamentary elections in 2005, with better access to the media for opposition candidates, and greater evidence of impartiality by the Central Election Commission. While the voting itself generally met international standards, the government's behavior in the campaign period — including bias in state media and misuse of administrative resources—remained a concern. The Communist Party suffered a significant setback, losing the high-profile Chisinau mayoral election and control of numerous local councils to opposition party coalitions. Elections in the semi-autonomous region of Gagauzia were held in December 2006; Mikhail Formuzal, a longtime opponent of President Voronin, was elected “Bashkan” (Governor). Parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2009 and the new Parliament will elect the next President of Moldova. In addition to state-sponsored media, there are several independent newspapers, radio and television stations, and news services. The independent media organizations, along with some that are affiliated with political parties, often criticize government poli-

cies. In August 2004, Teleradio Moldova (TRM) was officially transformed from a state-owned company into a public broadcaster. However, journalists and civil society representatives, who claimed the process was nontransparent and meant to stack the new TRM staff with those favorable to the government, met this move with large protests. In February 2007, a controversial privatization process shut down the popular, pro-opposition Chisinau radio station Antena C, and installed new, pro-Government management. The U.S. Ambassador, the OSCE and western diplomatic missions condemned the developments, which seemed to run counter to the Moldovan Broadcasting Code and risked silencing political opposition. Peaceful assembly is allowed, though permits for demonstrations must be obtained; private organizations, including political parties, are required to register with the government. Moldova enacted a new law on religion in July 2007. The new law, while noting the special status of the Moldovan Orthodox Church in Moldovan history and culture, simplifies registration procedures and allows religious groups more access to public places.

In February 2005, Brussels and Chisinau agreed on an EU-Moldova Action Plan, a "roadmap” of reforms to strengthen the democratic and economic situation of the country and facilitate its Euro-Atlantic integration. Although Moldova has made some progress toward laying the structural and legislative foundation for reform, the EU has emphasized that more implementation is needed.

Transnistria

The population of the Moldovan region of Transnistria is approximately 40% Romanian/Moldovan, 28% Ukrainian, and 23% Russian. Separatist forces maintain control of the Transnistrian region, which lies along the Ukrainian border. Moldova has tried to meet the Russian minority's demands by offering the region rather broad cultural and political autonomy. The dispute has strained Moldova's relations with Russia. The July 1992 cease-fire agreement established a tripartite peacekeeping force comprised of Moldovan, Russian, and Transnistrian units.

Negotiations to resolve the conflict continue, and the cease-fire is still in effect. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is trying to facilitate a negotiated settlement and has had an observer mission in place for several years. In July 2002, OSCE, Russian, and Ukrainia mediators approved a document setting forth a blueprint for reuniting Moldova under a federal system. Over the next year and a half, the settlement talks alternated between periods of forward momentum and periods of no progress. In February 2003, the U.S. and EU imposed visa restrictions against the Transnistrian leadership. In April 2003, the Moldovan Government and the Transnistrian authorities agreed to establish a joint commission to draft a constitution for a reintegrated state. However, fundamental disagreements over the division of powers remained, and a settlement proved elusive.

President Voronin decided not to sign a Russian-brokered settlement with Transnistria in November 2003; the proposal — seen by many as pro-Transnistrian—sparked opposition protests. During the summer of 2004, the Transnistrian separatists forcibly closed several Romanian language Latin-script schools in the region, for which the regime was subject to international condemnation. In 2005, Tiraspol prevented several farmers on the right bank of the Nistru River from working their fields on the left bank, within Transnistria's “borders.” The OSCE Mission to Moldova eventually mediated solutions to these cri-

After a 15-month pause, the sides met for a renewed round of settlement negotiations in October 2005. Mediators from Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE joined the Moldovan and Transnistrian representatives at the talks. In addition, the U.S. and EU joined the talks as observers. However, subsequent “5+2” negotiations have made little progress on a settlement or on withdrawal of Russian forces from Moldova: Russia still has weapons and munitions of the Operational Group of Russian Forces (formerly the Russian 14th Army) stationed in Transnistria, although it pledged to remove them under a timetable established at the 1999 OSCE Ministerial—the so-called “Istanbul Accords.” However, there has been no progress on Russian withdrawals since early 2004.

In response to Moldova's call for international monitoring of the border, in December 2005 the EU dispatched a Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) to help stem the flow of illegal trade between Ukraine and Moldova. In March 2006, Ukraine and Moldova began implementing a 2003 customs agreement, under which Transnistrian companies seeking to engage in cross-border trade must register in Chisinau. Despite the protests of the Smirnov regime, all major Transnistrian businesses have subsequently registered. In what is seen as a response to the new customs procedures, the Smirnov regime boycotted the 5+2 talks in March 2006. The talks have been stalled ever since. In September 2006, the Transnistrian regime held an “independence referendum.” Despite the fact that the Smirnov regime claimed that the referendum demonstrated overwhelming support for independence, the vote was not monitored by any western organizations, and no country recognized the referendum or the independence of Transnistria.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: Vladimir VORONIN

Prime Min.: Vasile TARLEV

First Dep. Prime Min.: Zinaida GRECIANI

Dep. Prime Min.: Andrei STRATAN

Dep. Prime Min.:

Min. of Agriculture & Food Industry: Anatolie GORODENCO

Min. of Culture & Tourism: Artur COZMA

Min. of Defense: Vitalie VRABIE

Min. of Economics & Trade: Igor DODON

Min. of Education, Youth, & Sport: Victor TVIRCUN

Min. of Environment & Natural Resources: Constantin MIHAILESCU

Min. of Finance: Mihai POP

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Andrei STRATAN

Min. of Health: Ion ABABII

Min. of Industry & Infrastructure: Vladimir ANTOSII

Min. of Information Development: Vladimir MOLOJEN

Min. of Internal Affairs: Gheorghe PAPUC

Min. of Justice: Vitalie PIRLOG

Min. of Local Public Admin.: Valentin GUZNAC

Min. of Reintegration: Vasile SOVA Min. of Social Protection, Family, & Children: Galina BALMUS

Min. of Transport & Roads Management: Vasile URSU

Sec., Supreme Security Council: Ion MOREI

Prosecutor Gen.: Valeriu GURBULEA Dir., Security & Intelligence Service: Artur RESETNICOV

Pres., National Bank: Leonid TALMACI

Ambassador to the US: Nicolae CHIRTOACA

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Alexei TULBURE

More information about Moldova can be found at the official (Romanian and Russian language) Government of Moldova website at www.moldova.md. The Moldova.org site is maintained by the Moldova Foundation, a non-governmental organization and has some useful links.

ECONOMY

Moldova remains the poorest country in Europe. It is landlocked, bounded by Ukraine on the east and Romania to the west. It is the second smallest of the former Soviet republics and the most densely populated. Industry accounts for less than 15% of its labor force, while agriculture's share is more than 40%.

Moldova's proximity to the Black Sea gives it a mild and sunny climate. This makes the area ideal for agriculture and food processing, which accounts for one third of the country's GDP. The fertile soil supports wheat, corn, barley, tobacco, sugar beets, and soybeans. Beef and dairy cattle are raised, and beekeeping is widespread. Moldova's best-known product comes from its extensive and well-developed vineyards concentrated in the central and southern regions. In addition to world-class wine, Moldova produces liqueurs and champagne. It is also known for its sunflower seeds, walnuts, apples, and other fruits.

Like many other former Soviet republics, Moldova has experienced economic difficulties. Since its economy was highly dependent on the rest of the former Soviet Union for energy and raw materials, the breakdown in trade following the breakup of the Soviet Union had a serious effect, exacerbated at times by drought and civil conflict. The Russian ruble devaluation of 1998 had a deleterious effect on Moldova's economy, but economic growth has been steady since 2000.

Moldova has made progress in economic reform since independence. The government has liberalized most prices and has phased out subsidies on most basic consumer goods. A program begun in March 1993 has privatized 80% of all housing units and nearly 2,000 small, medium, and large enterprises. Other successes include the privatization of nearly all of Moldova's agricultural land from state to private ownership, as a result of an American assistance program, “Pamint” (“land”), completed in 2000. A stock market opened in June 1995.

Following the economic difficulties caused by the Russian currency crisis of 1998, inflation dropped to 5.2% in 2002, the lowest level since Moldova's independence. However, inflation spiked again to 11.6 % in 2003 and never fell below 11% over the following years, rising as high as 12.7% in 2006. In 2006, Moldova faced twin external shocks—a two-fold increase in gas prices and a politically-motivated Russian ban on Moldovan wine imports, a key export item. While relatively stable in recent years, in 2007 the local currency appreciated because of a weakening U.S. dollar and pressure from record remittances from Moldovans working abroad. Reforms to the National Bank of Moldova in 2006 changed the central bank's policy priority from currency stability to price stability (fighting inflation). The National Bank of Moldova has the difficult task of sterilizing the money supply to contain stubbornly high inflation.

Moldova continues to make progress toward developing a viable free-market economy. The economy grew by an average 7% from 2000 to 2005 after years of recession since independence. External shocks in 2006 slashed economic growth to just 4%. After a budget surplus of 1.6% of GDP in 2005, the country had a slight deficit of 0.3% of GDP in 2006 despite better than anticipated revenue performance and prudent spending. The Moldovan economy continues to depend greatly on remittances sent from Moldovans working abroad. These inflows have increased to an estimated $1.2 billion a year.

Privatization results in recent years were not significant. Total proceeds in 2006 amounted to $12.4 million. Several smaller companies, two land plots in Chisinau and a large hotel were privatized in 2006. The government postponed indefinitely the privatization of large state enterprises in the power, telecommunications and agribusiness sectors. In 2007, Parliament passed a new law, introducing new approaches to privatizing and managing state-owned assets (including public-private partnerships), giving priority to economic efficiency. As the European Union expanded to Moldova's border, 2006 saw record high inflows of foreign direct investment. However, cumulative FDI since independence is only $1.28 billion, far below the country's needs. Sporadic and ineffective enforcement of the law, economic and political uncertainty, and government interference continue to discourage FDI inflows.

Spurred by soaring consumption and higher energy prices, imports have been growing more rapidly than exports. This was most prominent in 2006 when Moldova's trade deficit worsened as higher-priced energy imports surpassed exports, which were stunted by Russia's ban on Moldovan wine and agricultural products. Moldova traditionally exported between 70-80% of its wine production to Russia. The country lacks diversification in terms of sector development and export markets. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank resumed lending to Moldova in July 2002, and then suspended lending again in July 2003. In early 2006, Moldova reached agreement with the Paris Club on rescheduling of Moldova's foreign debt. In addition, in the spring of 2006, the IMF reached an agreement with the Moldovan Government for a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility designed to bolster foreign reserves against external shocks with a 3-year, $175 million program that includes a new IMF loan to the National Bank of Moldova.

Moldova continues to be subject to Russian economic pressure. In 2005, Russia enacted a ban on Moldovan agricultural products and in 2006, it banned imports of Moldovan wines. The wine ban has been particularly painful because, prior to the ban, Moldovan wines accounted for a third of the country's exports and 80% of wine exports went to Russia. Although Russian President Putin announced an end to the wine ban in November 2006, Russia had still not resumed importing Moldovan wine as of September 2007. In January 2006, Russian energy giant Gazprom temporarily cut off natural gas deliveries to Ukraine and Moldova—which is almost completely dependent on its neighbors for energy—and subsequently doubled the price of gas to Moldova. The impact has been substantial: Moldova's exports to Russia declined by 47.6% in 2006 and total exports dropped 3.6%, further contributing to a widening trade deficit (47% of GDP). In the first half of 2007, the country's trade deficit was already more than $1 billion (compared with $1.6 billion for all of 2006).

Moldova suffered from a severe drought during much of 2007 which caused hundreds of millions of dollars in agriculture sector losses and prompted concerns about food availability. In response to a request for assistance from the Government of Moldova, the United States provided $350,000 worth of seed to drought ravaged farmers in time for fall planting.

DEFENSE AND MILITARY ISSUES

Moldova has accepted all relevant arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union. On October 30, 1992, Moldova ratified the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment and provides for the destruction of weapons in excess of those limits. It acceded to the provisions of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in October 1994 and to the Biological Weapons Convention in December 2004. It does not have nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Moldova joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Partnership for Peace on March 16, 1994. Due to Moldova's constitutional neutrality, it is not a participant in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS—a group of 12 former Soviet republics) Collective Security Agreement.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Moldova's Parliament approved the country's membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States and a CIS charter on economic union in April 1994.

In 1995, the country became the first former Soviet republic admitted to the Council of Europe. In addition to its membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace, Moldova also belongs to the United Nations, the OSCE, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Moldova is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In 1998, Moldova contributed to the founding of GUAM, a regional cooperative agreement made up of Georgia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan, in addition to Moldova. Although the agreement initially included a declaration of mutual defense, Moldova has since declared its disinterest in participating in any GUAM-based mutual defense initiative. Moldova has been involved in information exchange, trade and transportation, border control, and energy projects issues within this regional agreement. In 2006, the organization's members voted to change the name to the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development—GUAM.

The past two years have seen significant developments in Moldova's relations with the West. In 2005, the European Union appointed a Special Representative for Moldova and the negotiations to resolve the Transnistrian conflict and the Delegation of the European Commission opened an office in Chisinau, In December 2005, Moldova welcomed an EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) along its Ukrainian border to crack down on smuggling, strengthen customs procedures and facilitate cross-border cooperation. In accordance with a 2005 Action Plan with the EU, Moldova has begun to harmonize Moldova's laws with those of the EU. As part of this, in late 2005, Moldova enacted its “Guillotine” laws, which slashed unnecessary business regulations, established a framework for relations between the private sector and government and created a mechanism to review the suitability of draft legislation.

In the atmosphere of heightened international sensitivity to terrorism following the events of September 11, 2001, Moldova has been a supporter of American efforts to increase international cooperation in combating terrorism. Moldova has sent demining units and peacekeepers to participate in post-conflict humanitarian assistance in Iraq.

U.S.-MOLDOVAN RELATIONS

The dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991 brought an end to the Cold War and created the opportunity to build bilateral relations with the 15 new states that had made up the former U.S.S.R., as they began political and economic transformation. The United States recognized the independence of Moldova on December 25, 1991 and opened an Embassy in its capital, Chisinau, in March 1992. The U.S. Ambassador to Moldova, Michael Kirby, arrived at post on September 1, 2006.

A trade agreement providing reciprocal most-favored-nation tariff treatment became effective in July 1992. An Overseas Private Investment Corporation agreement, which encourages U.S. private investment by providing direct loans and loan guarantees, was signed in June 1992. A bilateral investment treaty was signed in April 1993. Generalized system of preferences status was granted in August 1995, and some Eximbank coverage became available in November 1995.

In November 2006, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation approved Moldova's $24.7 million Threshold Country Plan to combat corruption. The MCC also ruled that Moldova is eligible to apply for full compact assistance and the Moldovan Government is preparing its compact proposal.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

CHISINAU (E) 103 Str. A. Mateevici, 373-22-40-8300 or 202-558-7920 (VoIP), Fax 373-22-23-3044, INMARSAT Tel 6-831-32845, Workweek: M-F 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., Website: http://chisinau.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Patricia Limeri
AMB OMS:Stephan H. Rogerson
ECO/COM:Ernest Abisellan
MGT:Stan Parmentier
PAO/ADV:Sharon Ketchum
POL ECO:Michael J. Mates
AMB:Michael D. Kirby
CON:David Franz
DCM:Kelly A. Keiderling
PAO:John Balian
GSO:Nicole Specians
RSO:Cameron Burks
AFSA:Robert Glunt
AID:Gary Linden
CLO:Royanna Butler
DAO:MAJ Thomas Butler
EEO:Lysa Prifold
FMO:Stan Parmentier
ICASS:Chair David Franz
IMO:Robert Glunt
IRS:Susan Stanley
ISO:Joel Waters
ISSO:Joel Waters
POL:Daria Fane
State ICASS:David Franz

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

January 22, 2008

Country Description: Moldova is a republic with a freely elected government. It has been an independent nation since 1991. Its capital, Chisinau, offers adequate hotels and restaurants, but tourist facilities in other parts of the country are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available.

Entry Requirements: Since January 1, 2007, citizens of the United States, EU member states, Canada, Switzerland, and Japan do not require visas to enter Moldova. For more information on entry requirements, please contact the Moldovan Embassy, 2101 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone: (202) 667-1130, (202) 667-1131, or (202) 667-1137, fax: (202) 667-1204, e-mail: [email protected] Travelers may also wish to consult the Moldovan Ministry of External Affairs and European Integration's web site at http://www.mfa.md/En/ConsularInf/VisasInfo.htm for general information on Moldovan visas and for application forms.

Safety and Security: The U.S. Government has no information related to the targeting of U.S. citizens, interests or facilities by terrorist organizations in Moldova, and no Americans have been killed or injured as a result of terrorist activity in Moldova. However, the U.S. government remains deeply concerned about the heightened threat of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests abroad. Americans are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution. Because Moldovan Government authorities often ask to see identification on the street, Americans should carry a copy of their passport with them at all times.

The separatist regime in control of the Transnistria region is not recognized by the United States, and consular assistance to American citizens in that region cannot be ensured. Travelers should exercise caution when visiting or transiting Transnistria. Travelers should be aware that there are numerous road checkpoints along roads leading into and out from Transnistria. Taking photographs of military facilities, public buildings, and security forces, including checkpoints along roads leading into and out from Transnistria, is strictly prohibited.

Racially motivated incidents against foreigners and persons of color have occurred in Moldova. Persons of African, Asian, or Arab heritage may be subject to various types of harassment, such as verbal abuse, and denied entrance into some clubs and restaurants.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: Moldova's economic difficulties, as well as organized criminal activity and more frequent travel by foreigners to Moldova, contribute to the risk visitors face from street crime, some potentially violent. While this risk is no greater than in most cities in the United States, many Americans have reported theft of money and small valuables from hotel rooms and local apartments. Cases of breaking and entering into homes and offices have occurred. Travelers are wise to exercise the same precautions with regard to personal safety and protection of valuables in Chisinau that they would in any major U.S. city.

Precautions should also be taken when using ATMs in Moldova. Some Americans have reported unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts after using ATMs. Instances have been reported of PIN theft from use of ATMs in Moldova, either by “skimming” devices, which record the ATM card information while in use, or by surreptitious observation.

Train and bus services are below Western European standards and some U.S. citizens have been victims of crimes involving thefts while traveling on international trains to and from Moldova.

Americans who use the Moldovan postal service report frequent losses from international letter and package mail.

Internet Fraud Warning: The Embassy is aware of various confidence schemes that have taken advantage of American citizens, frequently via the Internet. In some cases these involve the purchase or sale of items on the Internet in which the payment or shipment of goods was not completed by a Moldovan counterpart. In the spring of 2006, Moldovan police recovered over $250,000 in jewelry that was sent to “buyers” in Moldova from the U.S. via fake online escrow companies. Substantial criminal enterprises specializing in this type of crime (Internet auction fraud) are emerging in Moldova. In other cases, American citizens, particularly males, have met potential Moldovan fiancé(e)s on the Internet who have convinced them to send hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but have no intention of a serious relationship. Once the American citizen starts to question the reason for sending the money, the Moldovan fiancé(e)s suddenly ends his/her contact. On occasion, American citizens who come to Moldova to visit someone they have first met over the Internet have reported becoming subject to crimes such as extortion and involuntary detention. American citizens should be aware that any such activity committed by individuals in Moldova is subject to the Moldovan legal system and could prove difficult to prosecute. In the vast majority of cases, there is little that the U.S. Embassy can do to assist American citizens who are defrauded by Moldovans via the Internet.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care in Moldova is substandard throughout the country, including Chisinau. In the event of serious medical conditions every effort should be made to go to Western Europe. In the event of emergency, travelers should attempt first to contact the local ambulance service, which is trained to determine which medical facility is most appropriate for treatment and will transport the injured or sick person to that location. Hospital accommodations are inadequate throughout the country and advanced technology is lacking. Shortages of routine medications and supplies may be encountered. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate medical facilities. The U.S. Embassy maintains lists of medical facilities and English-speaking doctors, but cannot guarantee or endorse competence. Visitors to Moldova are advised to bring their own supply of both prescription and common over-the-counter medications. Pharmacies are not stocked to Western standards and products are not labeled in English. Poor quality and/or fraudulent medications have been reported.

Medical Information: Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Moldova; the World Health Organization (WHO) has placed it in its “highest risk” category. Travelers planning to stay in Moldova for more than 3 months should have a pre-departure PPD skin test status documented. Given the way TB is transmitted, travelers should consider limiting their exposure to TB by avoiding crowded public places and public transportation whenever possible. Domestic help should be screened for TB. For further information, please consult the CDC's Travel Notice on TB at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel.

Other major health concerns include Hepatitis A (food-borne), Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C (blood-and body fluids-borne). The incidence of sexually transmitted diseases is as high as it is in most developing countries.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877FYI-TRIP (1-877394-8747) or via the CDC's web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the WHO's web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Moldova is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Moldova's highway infrastructure consists mainly of two-lane roads that often lack markings or signage, are unevenly maintained, and seldom have lighting. Caution should be taken to prevent collisions with agricultural vehicles and/or livestock. Urban roads in Moldova are infrequently maintained and often lack clear signs or lane markings. Travel outside of urban areas before dawn and after dusk should be avoided if at all possible. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution to avoid accidents, which are commonplace. Many Moldovan drivers would be considered aggressive or erratic by American standards. Many accidents involve drunk drivers. The quality and safety of public transportation vary widely. Trains, trolleybuses, and buses are often old and may frequently break down. Taxis are available in most urban areas, and vary from old Soviet-era vehicles to newer, Western European or American model vehicles.

Visit the website of the Moldova's national tourist office at http://www.turism.md.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Moldova, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Moldova's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's web site at http://www.faa.gov

Special Circumstances: Travelers are advised to register any foreign currency brought into Moldova with customs authorities upon entering the country. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Moldova in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements. Visas and residency: Current Moldovan Government (GOM) border registration procedures will remain unchanged under the new immigration law. As of January 1, 2007, U.S. and most other foreign nationals arriving in Moldova do not require a visa and are permitted stays of up to 90 days in any given six-month period. At the point of entry (i.e., airport or border), the Border Guard Service enters the traveler's personal data into a computer program and transfers the data to the GOM's Population Register. Visitors are no longer given a paper “registration receipt.” U.S. citizens are able to enter Moldova through Transnistria. However, because they will not have been registered at the border, they will still have to register with the nearest office of the Ministry of Information Development (MID) within three days of arrival in right-bank (western) Moldova.

For stays exceeding 90 days, foreign nationals are required to obtain “immigration certificates” and residence permits from the National Bureau for Migration. Foreign nationals planning to work in Moldova must also obtain a work permit. Immigration, residence and work permits usually need to be extended annually, but may be issued for up to five years.

For more information on registering with Moldovan authorities, U.S. citi-zens are encouraged to call the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau at (373) (22) 40-83-00.

Requirement to Carry Documentation: As noted above, Moldovan police have the right to request identity documents from any person. Individuals who fail to produce appropriate ID upon request may be subject to detention and fines. Therefore, Americans are advised to carry their U.S. passports (or a copy of their passports biographic information page) with registration card, if applicable, or a Moldovan-issued identification document when in public.

Consular Access: Moldovan law enforcement authorities have an uneven record of reporting the arrest or detention of American citizens to the U.S. Embassy, as required under international agreements. American citizens are therefore advised that if they are detained or arrested by Moldovan authorities, they should immediately request that the U.S. Embassy be contacted. Moldovan authorities have generally respected such requests in a prompt manner.

Americans sometimes report encounters with police or other Moldovan officials in which they are pressured to pay a bribe. Such low-level bribery attempts are commonplace in Moldova. These encounters should always be reported to the U.S. Embassy. Americans who have refused to pay bribes in Moldova generally report no consequences beyond being delayed or inconvenienced.

Photography: Americans who choose to travel in Transnistria should be aware that foreigners have reported being detained or harassed by authorities for taking photographs of military facilities or public buildings. Photography of checkpoints along roads leading into and out from the Transnistria region, or the personnel working there, is prohibited.

Dual Nationality: Moldovan legislation allowing dual citizenship went into effect on October 18, 2003. There is no requirement that dual nationals enter Moldova on their Moldovan passports. For further questions, please contact the Moldovan Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Telephone and Postal Services: Outside of Chisinau, travelers may have difficulty finding public telephones and receiving or making international and local calls. Losses have been reported from international letter and package mail, both of which are subject to a customs inspection before delivery. “Express” mail services such as DHL and Federal Express are available in Chisinau, although in most instances prices are high, and shipments arrive from (or reach) the United States in no less than five (5) business days.

Disabled Access: Persons with disabilities should be aware that public facilities and transportation in Moldova are rarely designed or built in a way that allows for wheelchair access. Wheelchair entrances, ramps, lifts or similar accommodations are rare; those that do exist are often below Western standards and/or poorly maintained. Most streets, sidewalks and other public paths are not well maintained and can be hazardous, particularly in poor weather conditions.

Commercial Transactions: Although still generally a cash-only economy, traveler's checks and credit cards are becoming increasingly accepted in Chisinau, although locations that will accept them outside the capital are still rare. Some vendors require the customer dial in a PIN to authorize a sale by credit card. Caution is advised, however, as some travelers have reported incidents of unauthorized expenditures made on credit cards during or following their use in Moldova, and there have also been reported incidents of fraud and account theft using bank machines.

Business in Transnistria: As noted in the Safety and Security section above, a separatist regime controls a narrow strip of land in eastern Moldova known as Transnistria (“Prid-nestrovie” in Russian). Individuals considering doing business in Transnistria should exercise extreme caution. The Embassy may not be able to offer consular or commercial services to Americans in Transnistria. Moldovan law requires firms (including those located in Transnistria) to register with the Moldovan Government and to use Moldovan customs seals on their exports. Under a December 2005 agreement between Moldova and Ukraine, Ukrainian customs and border officials require Moldovan customs seals on goods exported from Moldova, including Transnistria, and are enforcing this requirement with EU assistance. Transnistrian firms not legally registered with Moldovan authorities operate in contravention of Moldovan law, which may complicate or prevent the import or export of goods. The Government of Moldova has indicated that it will not recognize the validity of contracts for the privatization of firms in Transnistria that are concluded without the approval of the appropriate Moldovan authorities. A number of Internet fraud schemes have originated in Transnistria.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Moldovan laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Moldova are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: U.S. Citizens who adopt a Moldovan child must ensure that the child has a visa valid for travel to Romania in the child's Moldovan passport. This visa is necessary to allow the child to travel to Bucharest, where the parents must apply at the U.S. Embassy for the child's immigrant visa to the United States. Without a Romanian visa, the child will be turned back at the airport or border crossing.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Moldova are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration web site, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Moldova. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in Chisinau, Moldova, Strada Alexei Mateevici 103; telephone: (373) (22) 23-37-72, after-hours telephone: (373) (22) 23-73-45; Consular Section Fax: (373) (22) 22-63-61. The Embassy's web site is http://moldova.usembassy.gov.

International Adoption

May 2007

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Adoption in Moldova can be a complicated process, sometimes involving long waits. Moldovan adoption law gives preference to Moldovan citizens and citizens of countries that have implemented the 1993 Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption. The United States intends to ratify and implement the Convention in 2007.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Intercountry adoptions are permitted in exceptional cases, when no relatives or other Moldovan families are able to adopt orphans or become their guardians. Children who have health or developmental problems that Moldovan families cannot afford to treat are also considered exceptional cases.

Information about children eligible for adoption is published in the Monitorul Official, the Moldovan government's official register. For the first six months after this information is published, an adoptable child is eligible only for domestic adoption by Moldovan citizens. After six months, an adoptable child is eligible for intercountry adoption. Prospective adoptive parents may indicate the sex and age range of the child they prefer.

Adoption Authority:
The Ministry of Social Protection,
Family and Child
Adoption Department
Ms. Eugenia Gonciar
Head of Department
# 1 Vasile Alecsandri Street, Office # 409
Chisinau, Moldova
Tel/Fax: (373 22) 725 300

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: The minimum age requirement for adoptive parents is 25, and the maximum is 50, unless one of the couple is under the age of 50. Married couples and single people may adopt; unmarried couples may not adopt from Moldova.

The presence of the following conditions disqualify prospective adoptive parents from adopting in Moldova: HIV/AIDS, psychological and behavioral disorders, drug addiction, chronic alcoholism, chronic somatic diseases (disability of the 1st and 2nd degree), various forms of cancer, Hepatitis B, C or D. The following conditions may temporarily disqualify a person from adopting: sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and severe virulent diseases.

Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements for foreign adoptive parents.

Time Frame: An adoption can take six to nine months to complete from the time a child is matched with prospective adoptive parents until the completion of the adoption.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Please review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family for a list of agencies.

Adoption Fees: There is a government fee of 1,500 euros for each adopted child and cost of airfare for adoption-related travel. Separate attorneys’ fees can vary greatly.

Adoption Procedures: To begin the adoption process, a registered adoption agency, through its Moldovan representative, forwards the foreign prospective adoptive parents’ file to the Adoption Department. The Department in turn forwards the file to the Education Directorate in the district where a prospective adoptable child resides.

The local Inspector for the Protection of Children's Rights in the district, together with a physician and the director of the orphanage, examines the file and matches the family with an eligible child.

The prospective adoptive parents are then provided with complete, official information about the child, including health and family background. The Moldovan representative sends the prospective parents this information including photographs or a video of the child. The prospective parents have the option to refuse a prospective adoptive child. If they do so, they must inform the Moldovan authorities in writing of their decision.

If the prospective parents agree to accept the child, they send a letter to the Adoption Department through their agency's representative, acknowledging that they are aware of any specific health or other problems, and accept the child. The orphanage receives a copy of the letter the Department. The district's Directorate of Education must then approve the prospective adoption and provide full information on the adoptive parents and the adoptive child to the Adoption Department.

If approved, the Directorate of Education will forward a Notice of Approval of Adoption to the Department. The Adoption Department will then decide whether to approve the adoption. Although prospective adoptive parents do not need to travel to Moldova to meet the prospective adoptive child at the time of the acceptance of the match, both parents must appear in court in Moldova to finalize the adoption.

The approved adoption file then proceeds to the court system through the district's Inspector for the Protection of Children’ Rights. Once the adoptive parents satisfy the Moldovan adoption requirements, a judge must grant a final adoption. The Moldovan government will then allow the child to leave Moldova. The adoptive parents can change the child’ name and request a new birth certificate (listing their names as parents) at the Moldovan Civil Registry office. Afterwards, the adoptive parents need to apply for a passport for the child at the Moldovan passport office.

Required Documents: The adoption application should contain:

  • name; year, month and day of birth; residence of the prospective adoptive parent(s);
  • name; year, month and day of birth; residence of the child to be adopted;
  • information about the biological parents and siblings of the prospective adoptive child; and,
  • request to change name and place of birth (in the case of adoption of a child who is 1 year of age or over), and register the adoptive parents as the birth parents on the child's birth certificate.

The following documents shall be attached to the application:

  • A copy of the adoptive parent's birth certificate, if the adoption is solicited by an unmarried person;
  • The written consent of the spouse or, proof of the legal termination of any prior marriage (such as a final decree of divorce), if applicable;
  • Doctor's certificate of the prospective adoptive parents;
  • Employment certificate, including the occupation, years of service, and income;
  • An authenticated copy of the prospective adoptive parent's Deed of Sale or lease agreement;
  • The court presiding over the adoption may require additional documents, including criminal records, if applicable; and
  • Approval by the prospective adoptive parents’ government and permission for the adopted child to reside in their new country of residence. An approved Form I-600A will meet this requirement.

All documents must be properly authenticated and translated into the State Language (Romanian). Two copies of all the above-listed documents must be submitted together with the adoption application.

Embassy in the United States
2101 S. Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 667-1130/1/7
Fax: (202) 667-1204
E-mail: [email protected]

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy
103, A. Mateevici Street
Chisinau, Moldova MD 2009
Tel: (373 22) 408 300
Fax: (373 22) 226 361
E-mail: [email protected]
Internet: http://moldova.usembassy.gov

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Moldova may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau. Questions about applying for an immigrant visa should be directed to the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, and toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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Moldova

MOLDOVA

Compiled from the August 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Moldova


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

33,843 sq. km. (13,000 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Maryland.

Cities:

Capital—Chisinau.

Terrain:

Rolling steppe, gradual slope south to Black Sea.

Climate:

Moderate winters, warm summers.

Time Zone:

GMT+2

People

Nationality:

Noun—Moldovan(s). Adjective—Moldovan.

Population (preliminary 2004 census):

3.36 million, excluding the estimated Transnistrian population of 580,000.

Population Growth rate:

−0.3% (est.).

Ethnic groups (1989 est.):

Moldovan/Romanian (65%), Ukrainian (13.8%), Russian (13%), Gagauz (3.5%), Jewish (1.5%), Bulgarian (2%), other (1.7%).

Main religions:

Christian Orthodox (98%), Jewish, Baptist.

Language:

Romanian (officially known as Moldovan), Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz.

Education:

Literacy—96%.

Health:

Infant mortality rate—44/1,000. Life expectancy—67 years.

Work force (2 million):

Agriculture—35%; industry—20%; other—45%.

Government

Type:

Republic.

Constitution:

Adopted July 28, 1994.

Independence:

August 27, 1991 (from Soviet Union).

Branches:

Executive—President (head of state), Prime Minister (head of Government), Government (cabinet). Legislative—unicameral Parliament. Judicial—Supreme Court.

Administrative subdivisions:

32 counties (raions), 4 municipalities, and one autonomous territorial unit.

Political parties:

Communist Party, Popular Christian Democratic Party, Our Moldova Alliance, Democratic Party, Social Liberal Party, and Social-Democratic Party.

Suffrage:

Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP (2004 est.):

$2.6 billion ($2.0 billion in 2003; $1.6 billion in 2002; $1.5 billion in 2001).

GDP real growth rate (January-September 2004):

5.7% (6.3% in 2003; 7.2% in 2002; 6.1% in 2001).

Per capita GDP (2004 est.):

$760 ($540 in 2003: $448 in 2002; $422 in 2001).

Natural resources:

Lignite, phosphates, gypsum, arable land, and limestone.

Agriculture:

Products—vegetables, fruits, wine and spirits, grain, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, meat, milk, eggs, tobacco, walnuts.

Industry:

Types—processed foods and beverages, including wine and refined sugar; processed fruit and vegetable products, including vegetable oil; dairy and meat products; tobacco items; metal processing and production of machinery; textiles and clothing, shoes; furniture.

Trade (2003):

Exports—$790 million (of which 46% go to countries outside the former Soviet Union): foodstuffs, wine, textiles, clothing, footwear and machinery. Major markets—Russia, Romania, Italy, Ukraine, Germany. Imports—$1,403 million (of which 58% come from countries outside the former Soviet Union): gas, oil, coal, steel, machinery and equipment, chemical products, textiles, foodstuffs, automobiles, and other consumer durables. Major suppliers—Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Italy, Romania.

Currency:

Moldovan Leu (plural Lei).

Exchange rate:

Lei/US$(2004): 12.33; 12.46 (end of year); (13.94 average in 2003); (13.57 average in 2002)

PEOPLE AND HISTORY

Ethnic groups represented in Moldova include Moldovan/Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Gagauz, and Bulgarian. Romanian (officially known as Moldovan) is the official language; Russian, Ukrainian, and Gagauz also are spoken. The great majority of Moldova's population is Christian Orthodox—90% of the population nominally belongs to one of the two main Orthodox denominations. The Moldovan Orthodox Church, an autonomous diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church and loyal to the Patriarch of Moscow, has 1,194 parishes; the Bessarabian Orthodox Church, affiliated with the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate in Bucharest, has 124 parishes. In addition, followers of the Old Rite Russian Orthodox Church (Old Believers) make up approximately 3.6% of the population.

The Republic of Moldova occupies most of what has been known as Bessarabia. Moldova's location has made it a historic passageway between Asia and southern Europe, as well as the victim of frequent warfare. Greeks, Romans, Huns, and Bulgars invaded the area, which in the 13th century became part of the Mongol empire. An independent Moldovan state emerged briefly in the 14th century under celebrated leader Stefan the Great but subsequently fell under Ottoman Turkish rule in the 16th century.

After the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12, the eastern half of Moldova (Bessarabia) between the Prut and the Dniester Rivers was ceded to Russia, while Romanian Moldavia (west of the Prut) remained with the Turks. Romania, which gained independence in 1878, took control of Rus-sian-ruled Bessarabia in 1918. The Soviet Union never recognized the action and created an autonomous Moldavian republic on the east side of the Dniester River in 1924.

In 1940, Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), which established the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic by merging the autonomous republic east of the Dniester and the annexed Bessarabian portion. Stalin also stripped the three southern counties along the Black Sea coast from Moldova and incorporated them in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Romania sought to regain Bessarabia by joining with Germany in the 1941 attack on the Soviet Union. However, Moldova was ceded back to Moscow when hostilities between the U.S.S.R. and Romania ceased at the end of World War II. The present boundary between Moldova and Romania was established in 1947.

In September 1990, the Supreme Soviet elected Mircea Snegur as President of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova. A former Communist Party official, he endorsed independence from the Soviet Union and actively sought Western recognition. On May 23, 1991, the Supreme Soviet renamed itself as the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, which subsequently declared its independence from the U.S.S.R.

In August 1991, Moldova's transition to democracy initially had been impeded by an ineffective Parliament, the lack of a new constitution, a separatist movement led by the Gagauz (Christian Turkic) minority in the south, and unrest in the Transnistria region on the left bank of the Nistru/Dniester River, where a separatist movement declared a "Transdniester Moldovan Republic" in September 1990. The Russian 14th Army intervened to stem widespread violence and support the Transnistrian regime which is led by supporters of the 1991 coup attempt in Moscow. In 1992, the government negotiated a cease-fire arrangement with Russian and Transnistrian officials, although tensions continue, and negotiations are ongoing. In February 1994, new legislative elections were held, and the ineffective Parliament that had been elected in 1990 to a 5-year term was replaced. A new constitution was adopted in July 1994. The conflict with the Gagauz minority was defused by the granting of local autonomy in 1994.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

In 2000, Parliament passed a decree making Moldova a parliamentary republic, with the president elected by Parliament instead of by popular vote. Widespread popular dissatisfaction with previous governments and economic hardship led to a surprise at the polls in February 2001. In elections certified by international observers as free and fair, slightly over half of Moldova's voters cast their ballots for the Communist Party. Under the rules of Moldova's proportional representation system, the Communist faction, which in the previous Parliament consisted of 40 of Parliament's 101 seats, jumped to 71—a clear majority. The Parliament then elected the leader of the Communist faction, Vladimir Voronin, to be President.

President Voronin's first term was marked by up and down relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Politically, the government was committed to the reduction of poverty by allocating more resources to social safety net items such as health, education, and increasing pensions and salaries. Voronin proceeded with former President Lucinschi's plans to privatize several important state-owned industries and even on occasion broke with his own party over important issues. Under President Voronin, relations with the United States have remained strong. From January to April 2002, large demonstrations took place in opposition to several controversial government proposals, including expanded use of the Russian language in schools and its designation as an official language. While the demonstrations were sometimes tense, the government did not use force and ultimately agreed to Council of Europe (CoE) mediation.

In March 2005 parliamentary elections, the Communist Party received 46.1% of the vote, or 56 seats in the 101-member Parliament—more than enough for the 51-vote minimum required to form a government, but short of the 61 votes necessary to elect a president. However, President Voronin was re-elected with support from the Christian Democratic Popular Party and from the Democratic and Social Liberal party factions, after Voronin promised to deliver on needed reforms and Euro-Atlantic integration for the country. Those factions broke away from the Moldovan Democratic Bloc following the elections, leaving the Our Moldova Alliance (AMN) of former Chisinau Mayor Serafim Urechean as the second-largest party in Parliament with 26 seats.

Local elections in May and June 2003—the first nationwide contests since the Communists came to power—did not meet the relatively high electoral standards set in previous Moldovan elections, according to international observers. While the voting itself generally met international standards, the government's behavior in the campaign period—including bias in state media, misuse of administrative resources, and the arrests of two opposition mayors—represented a step backward. The Communists won the largest share of votes, but lost in the country's highest-profile race, for mayor of Chisinau. Former Mayor and AMN leader Serafim Urechean decided to give up his mayoral seat to retain his mandate as an elected parliamentarian in the March 2005 elections, as Moldovan legislation prohibits holding both positions simultaneously. Early mayoral elections for Chisinau were held in July 2005 but were invalid due to low turnout.

In addition to state-sponsored media, there are several independent newspapers, radio and television stations, and news services. The independent media organizations, along with some that are affiliated with political parties, often criticize government policies. In August 2004, Teleradio Moldova (TRM) was officially transformed from a state-owned company into a public broadcaster. However, journalists and civil society representatives, who claimed the process was nontransparent and meant to stack the new TRM staff with those favorable to the government, met this move with large protests. Peaceful assembly is allowed, though permits for demonstrations must be obtained; private organizations, including political parties, are required to register with the government. Legislation passed in 1992 codified freedom of religion but required that religious groups register with the government.

Transnistria

The population of the Moldovan region of Transnistria is approximately 40% Romanian/Moldovan, 28% Ukrainian, and 23% Russian. Separatist forces maintain control of the Transnistrian region, which lies along the Ukrainian border. Moldova has tried to meet the Russian minority's demands by offering the region rather broad cultural and political autonomy. The dispute has strained Moldova's relations with Russia. The July 1992 cease-fire agreement established a tripartite peacekeeping force comprised of Moldovan, Russian, and Transnistrian units.

Negotiations to resolve the conflict continue, and the cease-fire is still in effect. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is trying to facilitate a negotiated settlement and has had an observer mission in place for several years. In July 2002, OSCE, Russian, and Ukrainian mediators approved a document setting forth a blueprint for reuniting Moldova under a federal system. Over the next year and a half, the settlement talks alternated between periods of forward momentum and periods of no progress. In February 2003, the U.S. and EU imposed visa restrictions against the Transnistrian leadership. In April 2003, the Moldovan Government and the Transnistrian authorities agreed to establish a joint commission to draft a constitution for a reintegrated state. However, fundamental disagreements over the division of powers remained, and a settlement proved elusive.

In May 2003, Ukraine and Moldova reached an agreement under which Ukraine would no longer recognize Moldova's obsolete customs stamps, which were still being used by the Transnistrians; in reality, however, the Moldovans exercise little control over their border with Ukraine and illegal trade remains an issue in the region. Moldova has continued to call for international monitoring of the border.

In a surprise move, President Voronin decided not to sign a Russian-brokered settlement with Transnistria in November 2003. The appearance of the Russian proposal—seen by many as pro-Transnistrian—was enough to set off a brief wave of opposition protests. The potential for continued protest over these contentious issues remains. During the summer of 2004, the Transnistrian separatists forcibly closed Romanian language Latin-script schools. These actions were internationally condemned, and the OSCE Mission to Moldova mediated a solution to the crisis; however, negotiations on the larger conflict have since come to a standstill.

Russia has failed to remove weapons and munitions of the Operational Group of Russian Forces (formerly the Russian 14th Army) stationed in Transnistria, as required under the timetable set forth in the 1999 Istanbul Accords, and this process remained stalled throughout 2004.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 11/9/2005

President: Vladimir VORONIN
Speaker of the Parliament: Marian LUPU
Prime Minister: Vasile TARLEV
First Dep. Prime Min.: Zinaida GRECIANI
Dep. Prime Min.: Valerian CRISTEA
Dep. Prime Min.: Andrei STRATAN
Min. of Agriculture & Food Industry: Anatolie GORODENCO
Min. of Culture & Tourism: Artur COZMA
Min. of Defense: Valeriu PLESCA
Min. of Economy & Commerce: Valeriu LAZAR
Min. of Education, Youth, & Sport: Victor TVIRCUN
Min. of Environment & Natural Resources: Constantin MIHAILESCU
Min. of Finance: Mihai POP
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Andrei STRATAN
Min. of Health & Social Protection: Ion ABABII
Min. of Industry & Infrastructure: Vladimir ANTOSII
Min. of Information Development: Vladimir MOLOJEN
Min. of Internal Affairs: Gheorghe PAPUC
Min. of Justice: Victoria IFTODI
Min. of Reintegration: Vasile SOVA
Min. of Transport & Roads Management: Miron GAGAUZ
Sec., Supreme Security Council: Ion MOREI
Prosecutor General: Valeriy BALABAN
Dir., Intelligence & Security Service (ISS): Ion URSU
Pres., National Bank: Leonid TALMACI
Ambassador to the US: Mihai MANOLI
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Vsevolod GRIGORE

Moldova's embassy in the United States is at 2101 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: 202-667-1130; fax 202-667-1204).

More information about Moldova can be found at the official (Romanian and Russian language) Government of Moldova website at www.moldova.md. The Moldova.org site is maintained by the Moldova Foundation, a non-governmental organization, and has some useful links.


ECONOMY

Moldova remains the poorest country in Europe. It is landlocked, bounded by Ukraine on the east and Romania to the west. It is the second smallest of the former Soviet republics and the most densely populated. Industry accounts for only 20% of its labor force, while agriculture's share is more than one-third.

Moldova's proximity to the Black Sea gives it a mild and sunny climate. This makes the area ideal for agriculture and food processing, which accounts for about 40% of the country's GDP. The fertile soil supports wheat, corn, barley, tobacco, sugar beets, and soybeans. Beef and dairy cattle are raised, and beekeeping is widespread. Moldova's best-known product comes from its extensive and well-developed vineyards concentrated in the central and southern regions. In addition to world-class wine, Moldova produces liqueurs and champagne. It is also known for its sunflower seeds, walnuts, apples, and other fruits.

Like many other former Soviet republics, Moldova has experienced economic difficulties. Since its economy was highly dependent on the rest of the former Soviet Union for energy and raw materials, the breakdown in trade following the breakup of the Soviet Union had a serious effect, exacerbated at times by drought and civil conflict. The Russian ruble devaluation of 1998 had a deleterious effect on Moldova's economy, but economic growth has been steady since 2000.

Moldova has made progress in economic reform since independence. The government has liberalized most prices and has phased out subsidies on most basic consumer goods. A program begun in March 1993 has privatized 80% of all housing units and nearly 2,000 small, medium, and large enterprises. Other successes include the privatization of nearly all of Moldova's agricultural land from state to private ownership, as a result of an American assistance program, "Pamint" ("land"), completed in 2000. A stock market opened in June 1995.

Inflation was brought down from over 105% in 1994 to 11% in 1997. Though inflation spiked again after Russia's 1998 currency devaluation, Moldova made great strides in bringing it under control: 18.4% in 2000, 6.3% in 2001, and 4.4% in 2002. In 2003 inflation escalated again—due mainly to a drought-driven rise in agricultural prices—reaching 15.7%, although it was reined in to 12.5% in 2004. The local currency appreciated considerably in 2003 and the first months of 2004. By May, the leu had reached its highest level since the end of 1999. After the National Bank of Moldova increased considerably its purchases on the foreign exchange market, the leu stabilized in November-December 2004 at 12.00-12.50 to the U.S. dollar.

Moldova continues to make progress toward developing a viable free-market economy. The country recorded its fifth consecutive year of positive GDP growth in 2004, with year-end real GDP growth of 8%. This growth is impressive considering that, prior to 2000, Moldova had recorded only one year of positive GDP growth since independence. Budget execution in 2004 was also impressive, as actual consolidated budget revenues exceeded projections by 1.4% for most of the year.

Privatization results in 2004 were not significant: several smaller companies and one winery were privatized in 2004, but the government postponed indefinitely the privatization of several larger state enterprises, including two electricity distribution companies. Sporadic and ineffective enforcement of the law, economic and political uncertainty, and government harassment and interference continue to discourage inflows of foreign direct investment.

Imports continued to increase more rapidly than exports during the first nine months of 2004;Moldova's terms of trade worsened, as higher-priced energy imports outpaced the value of Moldova's main exports—agricultural and agro-processing goods.

During 2002, Moldova rescheduled an outstanding Eurobond, in the amount of $39.6 million, to avoid a potential default. In May 2004, Moldova redeemed promissory notes with a total value of $114.5 million to Russian Gazprom for just $50 million. Moldova informed its bilateral creditors in mid-2003 that it would no longer service its debts. The 2004 budget did provide funds for external debt service (interest) at some 6% of the government budget; the 2005 budget projects external debt service at some 4%. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank resumed lending to Moldova in July 2002, and then suspended lending again in July 2003. Although Moldova passed a Poverty Reduction Strategy in 2004, it has yet to reach an agreement with international financial institutions.


DEFENSE AND MILITARY ISSUES

Moldova has accepted all relevant arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union. On October 30, 1992, Moldova ratified the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment and provides for the destruction of weapons in excess of those limits. It acceded to the provisions of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in October 1994 and to the Biological Weapons Convention in December 2004. It does not have nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Moldova joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Partnership for Peace on March 16, 1994. Due to Moldova's constitutional neutrality, it is not a participant in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS—a group of 12 former Soviet republics) Collective Security Agreement.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Moldova's Parliament approved the country's membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States and a CIS charter on economic union in April 1994.

In 1995, the country became the first former Soviet republic admitted to the Council of Europe. In addition to its membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace, Moldova also belongs to the United Nations, the OSCE, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Moldova is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In 1998, Moldova contributed to the founding of GUAM, a regional cooperative agreement made up of Georgia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan, in addition to Moldova. Although the agreement initially included a declaration of mutual defense, Moldova has since declared its disinterest in participating in any GUAM-based mutual defense initiative. Moldova has been involved in information exchange, trade and transportation, border control, and energy projects issues within this regional agreement.

In the atmosphere of heightened international sensitivity to terrorism following the events of September 11, 2001, Moldova has been a supporter of American efforts to increase international cooperation in combating terrorism. Moldova has sent demining units and peacekeepers to participate in post-conflict humanitarian assistance in Iraq.


U.S.-MOLDOVAN RELATIONS

The dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991 brought an end to the Cold War and created the opportunity to build bilateral relations with the 15 new states that had made up the former U.S.S.R., as they began political and economic transformation. The United States recognized the independence of Moldova on December 25, 1991 and opened an Embassy in its capital, Chisinau, in March 1992. The current U.S. Ambassador to Moldova, Heather M. Hodges, arrived at post in October 2003.

A trade agreement providing reciprocal most-favored-nation tariff treatment became effective in July 1992. An Overseas Private Investment Corporation agreement, which encourages U.S. private investment by providing direct loans and loan guarantees, was signed in June 1992. A bilateral investment treaty was signed in April 1993. Generalized system of preferences status was granted in August 1995, and some Eximbank coverage became available in November 1995.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

CHISINAU (E) Address: 103 Str. A. Mateevici; Phone: 373-22-40-8300; Fax: 373-22-23-3044; INMARSAT Tel: 6-831-32845; Workweek: M-F 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; Website: www.usembassy.md.

AMB:Heather M. Hodges
AMB OMS:M. Kay Spivey
DCM:John H. Winant
DCM OMS:Janice Foreman
POL/ECO:H. Martin McDowell
COM:J. Larry Wright
CON:Marlin Hardinger
MGT:Charles Eaton
AFSA:Robert Glunt
AID:Jeffrey Kelley-Clarke
CLO:Maho Ushveridze
CUS:Tony Karb
DAO:Richard Reyno
ECO:H. Martin McDowell
EEO:Aleisha Woodward
FMO:Charles Eaton
GSO:G. Michael Snyder
ICASS Chair:Jeffrey Kelley-Clarke
IMO:Randal Meyers
ISO:Robert Glunt
ISSO:Robert Glunt
PAO:Aleisha Woodward
RSO:Cameron Burks
State ICASS:Marlin Hardinger
Last Updated: 1/10/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

November 14, 2005

Country Description:

Moldova is a republic with a freely elected government. It has been an independent nation since 1991. Its capital, Chisinau, offers adequate hotels and restaurants, but tourist facilities in other parts of the country are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

American citizens can obtain a visa from a Moldovan diplomatic mission abroad before traveling to Moldova. Alternatively, American citizens holding passports still valid for 6 months can obtain visas at the Chisinau International Airport or at specific border crossings, but only for stays of up to 90 days. American citizens are no longer required to have an invitation from a Moldovan citizen or entity in order to obtain a visa. For more information on entry requirements, please contact the Moldovan Embassy, 2101 S. Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone: (202) 667-1130, (202) 667-1131, or (202) 667-1137, fax: (202) 667-1204, e-mail: [email protected] Travelers may also wish to consult the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website for general information on Moldovan visas and for application forms: http://www.mfa.md/En/ConsularInf/Visas-Info.htm.

Safety and Security:

The U.S. Government has no information related to the targeting of U.S. citizens, interests or facilities by terrorist organizations in Moldova, and no Americans have been killed or injured as a result of terrorist activity in Moldova. However, the U.S. government remains deeply concerned about the heightened threat of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests abroad. Americans are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution.

A separatist regime controls a narrow strip of land in the Transnistria region of eastern Moldova. The United States and other countries do not recognize this regime. Since no formal diplomatic relations exist between the United States and local authorities there, the provision of consular assistance to American citizens cannot be ensured. Travelers should exercise caution in visiting or transiting the area. Travelers should be aware that there are numerous road checkpoints along the roads into and out of the Transnistria region.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

Moldova's economic difficulties, as well as increased organized criminal activity and more frequent travel by foreigners to Moldova, contribute to the risk visitors face from street crime, some potentially violent. While this risk is no greater than in most cities in the United States, many Americans have reported theft of money and small valuables from hotel rooms and local apartments. Cases of breaking and entering into homes and offices have occurred. Travelers are wise to exercise the same precautions with regard to personal safety and protection of valuables in Chisinau that they would in any major U.S. city.

Precautions should also be taken when using ATM machines in Moldova. Some Americans have reported unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts after using ATMs. Instances have been reported of PIN theft from use of ATMs in Moldova either by, "skimming" devices, which record the ATM card information while in use, or by surreptitious observation.

Train and bus services are below Western European standards and some U.S. citizens have been victims of crimes involving thefts while traveling on international trains to and from Moldova.

Americans who use the Moldovan postal service report frequent losses from international letter and package mail.

Internet Fraud Warning:

The Embassy is also aware of various confidence schemes that have taken advantage of American citizens, frequently via the Internet. In some cases these involve the purchase or sale of items on the Internet in which the payment or shipment of goods was not completed by a Moldovan counterpart. Losses have included merchandise valued above $1,000. In other cases, American citizens, particularly males, have met potential Moldovan fiancé(e)s on the Internet who have convinced them to send hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but have no intention of a serious relationship. Once the American citizen starts to question the reason for sending the money, the Moldovan fiancé(e)s suddenly ends his/her contact. On occasion, American citizens who come to Moldova to visit someone they have first met over the Internet have reported becoming subject to crimes such as extortion and involuntary detention. American citizens should be aware that any such activity committed by individuals in Moldova is subject to the Moldovan legal system and could prove difficult to prosecute. In the vast majority of cases, there is nothing that the U.S. Embassy in Moldova can do to assist American citizens who are defrauded by Moldovans via the Internet.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while over-seas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical care in Moldova is limited and there are often severe shortages of basic medical supplies. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities. The U.S. Embassy maintains lists of medical facilities and English-speaking doctors, but cannot guarantee or endorse competence.

Visitors to Moldova are advised to bring their own supply of both prescription and common over-thecounter medications. Pharmacies are not stocked to Western standards and products are not labeled in English. Poor quality and/or fraudulent medications have been reported.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web-site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Moldova is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Moldova's highway infrastructure consists mainly of two-lane roads that often lack markings or signage, are unevenly maintained and seldom have lighting. Caution should be taken to prevent collisions with agricultural vehicles and/or livestock. Urban roads in Moldova are infrequently maintained and often lack clear signs or lane markings. Travel outside of urban areas before dawn and after dusk should be avoided if at all possible. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution to avoid accidents, which are commonplace. Many Moldovan drivers would be considered aggressive or erratic by American standards. Many accidents involve drunk drivers. The quality and safety of public transportation varies widely. Trains, trolleybuses, and buses are often old and may frequently break down. Taxis are available in most urban areas, but may vary from old Soviet-era vehicles to newer, Western European or American model vehicles.

Visit the website of the country's national tourist office at http://www.turism.md/.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Moldova, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Moldova's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

Special Circumstances:

Travelers are advised to register any foreign currency brought into Moldova with customs authorities upon entering the country. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Moldova in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Registration:

All foreign citizens staying in Moldova for three days or longer are required to register with local authorities at the Office of Visas and Registration within the first three working days of their stay in Moldova. A registration card is issued to the foreigner and should be kept with his/her passport. The place of registration (usually, a district police station) depends on where a visitor is staying in Moldova. Most hotels will register guests automatically. The Embassy encourages U.S. citizens to ask about registration when checking into a hotel. U.S. citizens not staying in a hotel are responsible for registering with authorities. To find out exactly where to register, a U.S. citizen may call the central Office for Visas and Registration at (373) (22) 21-30-78, and should be prepared to give the address of his/her residence in Moldova. Under Moldovan law, those who fail to register with authorities may be required to appear in court and pay a fine, possibly delaying their departure from Moldova. For more information on registering with Moldovan authorities, U.S. citizens are encouraged to call the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau at (373) (22) 40-83-00.

Requirement to Carry Documentation:

Moldovan police legally have the right to request identity documents from any person. Individuals who fail to produce appropriate ID upon request may be subject to detention and fines. Therefore, Americans are advised to carry their U.S. passports (or a copy of their passport bio page) with registration card, if applicable, or a Moldovan-issued identification document when in public.

Consular Access:

Moldovan law enforcement authorities have an uneven record of reporting the arrest or detention of American citizens to the U.S. Embassy, as required under international agreements. American citizens are therefore advised that if they are detained or arrested by Moldovan authorities, they should immediately request that the U.S. Embassy be contacted. Moldovan authorities have generally respected such requests in a prompt manner.

Americans sometimes report encounters with police or other Moldovan officials in which they are pressured to pay a bribe. Such low-level bribery attempts are commonplace in Moldova. These encounters should always be reported to the U.S. Embassy. Americans who have refused to pay bribes in Moldova generally report no consequences beyond being delayed or inconvenienced.

Photography:

Americans who choose to travel in Transnistria should be aware that foreigners have reported brief detention or harassment by authorities for taking photographs of military facilities or public buildings. Photography of checkpoints into and out of the Transnistria region or the personnel working there is prohibited. Unauthorized photography has resulted in unnecessary delays and detentions.

Dual Nationality:

Moldovan legislation allowing dual citizenship went into effect on October 18, 2003. There is no requirement that dual nationals must enter Moldova on their Moldovan passports. For further questions, please contact the Moldovan Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Telephone and Postal Services:

Outside of Chisinau, travelers may have difficulty finding public telephones and receiving or making international and local calls. Losses have been reported from international letter and package mail, both of which are subject to a customs inspection before delivery. "Express" mail services such as DHL and Federal Express are available in Chisinau, although in most instances prices are high, and shipments arrive from (or reach) the U.S. in no less than five (5) business days.

Disabled Access:

Persons with disabilities should be aware that public facilities and transportation in Moldova are rarely designed or built in a way that allows for wheelchair access. Wheelchair entrances, ramps, lifts or similar accommodations are rare; those that do exist are often below Western standards and/or poorly maintained. Most streets, sidewalks and other public paths are not well maintained and can be hazardous, particularly in poor weather conditions.

Commercial Transactions:

Although still generally a cash-only economy, traveler's checks and credit cards are becoming increasingly accepted in Chisinau, although locations that will accept them outside the capital are still rare. However, caution is advised as some travelers have reported incidents of unauthorized expenditures made on credit cards during or following their use in Moldova, and there have also been reported incidents of fraud and account theft using bank machines (ATMs).

Business in Transnistria:

Individuals considering doing business in Transnistria should be aware that the government of Moldova does not recognize the separatist regime, which presently controls this area, and many Transnistrian firms are not legally registered with Moldovan authorities and operate in contravention of Moldovan law. This can often complicate or prevent the import or export of goods into or from Transnistria. The government of Moldova has indicated that it does not recognize the validity of contracts made for the privatization of firms located in the Transnistria region concluded without the approval of the appropriate Moldovan authorities.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Moldovan laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Moldova are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in Moldova are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Moldova. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in Chisinau, Moldova, Strada Alexei Mateevici 103; telephone: (373)(22) 23-37-72, afterhours telephone: (373)(22) 23-73-45; Consular Section Fax: (373)(22) 22-63-61. The Embassy's website is http://www.usembassy.md.

International Adoption

January 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

All Immigrant Visa processing for Moldovan citizens, including adopted orphans, is done at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania. The U.S. Embassy in Chisinau, Moldova conducts the I-604 orphan investigation and a mandatory review of documents to verify an adopted orphan can qualify for a U.S. immigrant visa. Please see below under "U.S. Immigration Requirements" for further details.

Adoptability of Moldovan Orphans:

Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans (IR-3 and IR-4 visas combined)*:
FY 2003: 12
FY-2002: 7
FY-2001: 46
FY-2000: 79
FY-1999: 63

*Immediate Relative (IR)-3 visas are issued to orphans adopted in Moldova. IR-4 visas are issued to orphans adopted or re-adopted in the United States.

International adoptions are permitted in exceptional cases, when no relatives or other Moldovan families are able to adopt orphans or become their guardians. Children who have health or developmental problems that Moldovan families cannot afford to treat are also considered exceptional cases.

Information about children eligible for adoption is published in the Monitorul Official, the Moldovan government's official register. After publication, an adoptable child is available for domestic adoption by Moldovans for six months. After six months, an adoptable child is available for international adoption.

Prospective adoptive parents may indicate the sex and age range they prefer.

Moldovan Adoption Authority:

Ms. Raisa Lozinschi, the Executive Secretary; Secretariatul Comitetului pentru Infiere a Moldovei (The Mold-ovan Adoption Committee) #1, Piata Marii Adunari Nationale room # 424; Chisinau, Moldova; Tel: (373 22) 232-255.

Age and Civil Status Requirements: Minimum

age requirement for adopting parents is 25, and maximum is 50, unless one parent of a married couple is under the age of 50. Married couples and single people may adopt; unmarried couples may not adopt from Moldova.

Residential Requirements:

There are no residency requirements for foreign adoptive parents.

Time Frame:

An adoption can take 6-9 months to complete, from the time a child is matched with prospective adoptive parents to the completion of the adoption.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys:

Prospective adoptive parents from Moldova are required to use an accredited adoption agency when adopting in Moldova. There are seven U.S. based adoption agencies accredited by the Moldovan Adoption Committee.

For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and licensing office of the Department of Health and Family Services in the state where the agency is located. The U.S. Embassy in Moldova has a list of agencies known to work in Moldova. Neither the U.S. Embassy nor the Department of State can vouch for the efficacy or professionalism of any agent or facilitator.

Adoption Procedures:

The process begins when a registered international adoption agency, through its Moldovan representative, forwards a file about prospective international adoptive parents to the government's Adoption Committee.

The Committee forwards the file to the Education Directorate in the judets (county) where a prospective adoptable child resides. The local Inspector for the Protection of Children's Rights in the judets, together with the physician and director of the orphanage, examines the file and matches a family with an eligible child.

The prospective international adoptive parents are then provided with complete, official information about the child, including health and family background. The representative sends the prospective parents this information including photographs or a video of the child. The Moldovan representative will also send answers from the Moldovan authorities on all additional questions the parents have about the child. The prospective parents have the option to refuse a prospective adoptive child. In this case they must inform the Moldovan authorities in writing of their decision.

If the prospective parents agree to accept the child, they send a letter to the Committee through their agency's representative, acknowledging that they are aware of any specific health or other problems, and nevertheless accept the child. The orphanage receives a copy of the letter.

The judets' Directorate of Education approves the prospective adoption providing full information on the adoptive parents and the adopted child. The Directorate of Education writes the Notice of Approval of Adoption, and then forwards the file to the Adoption Committee. The Committee then decides whether to approve the adoption. Although prospective adoptive parents do not need to travel to Moldova to meet their adoptive child at the time of the acceptance of the match, they must to appear in court in Moldova to finalize the adoption.

The approved adoption file then proceeds to the court system through the judets' Inspector for the Protection of Children's Rights. After the court decision on the adoption comes into effect the child must obtain a travel passport, birth certificate and adoption certificate.

Documentary Requirements:

The following documents are required for an international adoption from Moldova.

  • An adoption application which contains: name; year, month and day of birth; residence of the adoptive parent(s); name; year, month and day of birth; residence of the child to be adopted, file data about parents and siblings of the child; reasons and confirmation of reasons for adoption; written request to change name, place of birth, date of birth (in the case of adoption of a child who is 1 year of age or over), and register adoptive parents on the child's birth certificate as the birth parents.

The following documents shall be attached to the application:

  • A copy of the adoptive parent's birth certificate, if the adoption is solicited by an unmarried person;
  • A copy of the marriage certificate of the adoptive parents if the adoption is solicited by a married couple;
  • The written consent of the spouse or a document confirming the divorce and that former spouses do not live together for at least one year, if the adoption is solicited by one of the spouses. If it is impossible to attach such a document, the application shall include proof to confirm this;
  • Health certificate of the adopters. The following conditions disqualify prospective adoptive parents from adopting in Moldova: HIV/AIDS, psychological and behavioral conditions, drug addiction, chronic alcoholism, chronic somatic diseases (disability of the 1st and 2nd degree), cancerous forms of oncological diseases, viral hepatitis B,C,D. The following conditions may temporarily disqualify a person from adopting: sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and severe virulent diseases;
  • A certificate from the adopter's work place, which shall include the title of position and the wage or a copy of the income statement or of a similar document;
  • A legalized copy of the document confirming the adopter's usage or ownership right over a dwelling;
  • The court presiding over the adoption may ask for additional documents accepted by law, including criminal records, if applicable; and
  • Approval by the adopting parents' government and permission for the adopted child to reside in their new country of residence.

All documents must be properly legalized. Two copies of documents attached to the adoption application shall be submitted.

Authentication Process:

All U.S. documents submitted to the Moldovan government, such as birth, death, and marriage certificates, must be authenticated. Contact the nearest Moldovan Embassy or Consulate for specific information about Moldovan authentication of U.S. documents. For additional information about authentication procedures, see the "Judicial Assistance" page of the Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site at http://travel.state.gov.

Moldovan Embassy in the United States:

2101 S. Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 667-1130, (202) 667-1131, or (202) 667-1137,
Fax: (202) 667-1204
E-mail: [email protected]

U.S. Immigration Requirements:

A child adopted by a U.S. citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Planning Your Trip Home:

Adoption of a child from Moldova requires an extra step, since you must have an I-604 interview at embassy Chisinau and an immigrant visa interview at embassy Bucharest. Once the I-604 investigation is complete, the adoptive child and parents must travel to Bucharest, Romania, to apply for an immigrant visa for the United States. In general, applying for the immigrant visa involves submission of DS-230 application forms, evidence that the I-600 and/or I-600A have been approved and a review of information obtained during the I-604 investigation about the orphan's status. Consular officers will also ensure that the child has a valid passport for travel to the United States, a satisfactory medical exam from a panel physician, and evidence of financial support (apart from that provided with the I-600A or I-600). Please visit the Web site for the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest for more information on immigrant visa application procedures at www.usembassy.ro.

U.S. Embassy in Moldova:

strada A. Mateevici 103
Chisinau, Moldova MD-2009
Tel.: (373 22) 23-37-72 or 40-83-00.
Fax: (373 22) 22-63-61
Email: [email protected]

U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania:

Filipescu 26
Bucharest, Romania
Tel: +40 21 210 4042
Fax: +40 21 211 3360
Email: [email protected]
Internet: www.usembassy.ro

Additional Information:

Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult BCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. The BCIS publication is available at the U.S. CIS Web site. The Department of State publication can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site under "International Adoptions."

Questions:

Specific questions regarding adoption may be addressed to the Consular Section of a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Parents may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-404-4747 with specific questions.

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Moldova

Moldova

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Moldovans

35 Bibliography

Republic of Moldova
Republica Moldoveneasca

CAPITAL: Chisinau

FLAG: Equal vertical bands of blue, yellow, and red; emblem in center of yellow stripe is Roman eagle with shield on its breast.

ANTHEM: n/a

MONETARY UNIT: The leu is a paper currency, replacing the Russian ruble. 1MLD = $0.07962 (or $1 = MLD12.56) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is in force.

HOLIDAYS: Independence Day, 27 August.

TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.

1 Location and Size

Moldova is a landlocked nation located in Eastern Europe, between Ukraine and Romania. With a total area of 33,843 square kilometers (13,067 square miles), Moldova is slightly larger than the state of Maryland. The country has a boundary length of 1,389 kilometers (864 miles).

Its capital city, Chişinău, is located in the south-central part of the country.

2 Topography

Moldova consists mostly of a hilly plain that is cut by deep valleys with many rivers and streams. The terrain slopes gradually southward. The Codri Hills run through the center of the country and contain the nation’s highest point, Mount Balanesti, at 430 meters (1,410 feet). The lowest point is along the Dniester River, with an elevation of 2 meters (7 feet).

The Dniester, along the eastern border, is the longest river, with a total length of 1,400 kilometers (870 miles). The second-longest river, the Prut, is a major tributary of the Danube. There are no major lakes, but saline marshes are found along the lower reaches of the Prut and in river valleys of southern Moldova.

3 Climate

The climate is of the humid continental type. The average temperature is 20°c (68°f) in July and -4°c (24°f) in January. Rainfall averages 58 centimeters (22.8 inches) a year.

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 33,843 sq km (13,067 sq mi)

Size ranking: 135 of 194

Highest elevation: 430 meters (1,410 feet) at Mount Balanesti (Dealul Balanesti)

Lowest elevation: 2 meters (7 feet) at the Nistru River (Dniester River)

Land Use*

Arable land: 55%

Permanent crops: 9%

Other: 36%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: 58 centimeters (22.8 inches)

Average temperature in January: -4°c (24°f)

Average temperature in July: 20°c (68°f)

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

4 Plants and Animals

Three-fourths of the country’s terrain features chernozyom (black soil), which supports the natural vegetation of steppe-like grasslands. The central hill country is densely forested with common trees of oak, maple, and beech. Badgers, wild boar, foxes, and hares are common animals. Blackbirds and larks are common birds. Carp, bream, trout, and pike populate the lakes and streams.

5 Environment

The natural environment in Moldova suffers from the heavy use of agricultural chemicals (including banned pesticides such as DDT), which have contaminated soil and groundwater. Poor farming methods have caused widespread soil erosion. As of 2003, 1.4% of Moldova’s total land area is protected. In 2006, threatened species included four types of mammals, eight species of birds, one type of reptile, and nine species of fish. Threatened species include the European bison, European souslik, and the great bustard.

6 Population

The population of Moldova was estimated at 4.2 million in 2005. The population projection for 2025 is 3.9 million. The population density in 2005 was about 128 persons per square kilometer (332 persons per square mile). The estimated 2005 population for Chişinău, the capital, was 662,000.

7 Migration

Since independence in 1991, Moldova has experienced difficulties. A short but violent civil war in 1992—the Transdniestrian conflict—resulted in the internal displacement of some 51,000 people and the external displacement of some 56,000 refugees who fled to the Ukraine. In 2004, about 5,641 Moldovans were refugees in Germany and 4,799 were refugees in the United States. In 2005, the estimated net migration rate was -0.25 migrants per 1,000 population.

8 Ethnic Groups

The most recent population estimates indicate the population is 64.5% Moldovan and Romanian. Other groups included Ukrainian, 13.8%; Russian, 13%; Bulgarians, 2%; Jews, 1.5%; and Gagauz and others, 5.2%.

9 Languages

Moldovan, the official language, is considered a dialect of Romanian rather than a separate language. There are a large number of Slavonic-derived words. Under Soviet rule the language was written in the Cyrillic alphabet, but Roman script was restored in 1989. Russian and Gagauz, a Turkish dialect, are also spoken. Government officials are expected to know both Moldovan and Russian.

10 Religions

Though there is no state religion, the Moldovan Orthodox Church has a privileged status with the state. More than 90% of the population belong to one of two Christian Orthodox denominations: the Moldovan Orthodox or the Bessarabian Church. About 3.6% of the population belong to the Old Rite Russian Orthodox Church (Old Believers). The Jewish community has about 31,300 members. There are also communities of Muslims and Baha’is.

11 Transportation

In 2004, railroads consisted of 1,138 kilometers (708 miles) of track, not including industrial lines. Highways totaled 12,730 kilometers (7,910 miles) in 2003, including 10,973 kilometers (6,818 miles) of paved roads. As of 2004, Moldova has 424 kilometers (263 miles) of

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Vladimir Voronin

Position: President of a republic

Took Office: 7 April 2001, reelected April 2005

Birthplace: Corjova, Moldova

Birthdate: 25 May 1941

Education: Technical College, Chisinau, Moldova, 1961; Unional Institute of Allimentary Industry, 1971; Academy of Sciences of CK KPSS, 1983; Academy of Police of the Soviet Union, 1991

Children: Two children

Of interest: Voronin was once director of a bread factory.

inland waterways. Access to the sea is through Ukraine or Romania. In 2005, the merchant fleet had two vessels of 1,000 gross registered tons or above. There were 23 airports in 2004, six of which had paved runways in 2005. In 2003, about 179,000 passengers were carried on domestic and international airline flights.

12 History

The region that is now Moldova (also called Bessarabia) has historically been inhabited by a largely Romanian-speaking population. It was part of the larger Romanian principality of Moldova in the 18th century, which in turn was under Ottoman control. In 1812, the region was ceded to the Russian Empire, which ruled it until March 1918, when it became part of Romania. However, Moscow established a small Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic on Ukrainian territory in 1924.

When World War II (1939–45) broke out in Europe, the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact assigned Moldova to the Soviet area of control and Soviet forces seized it in June 1940. After the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Germany helped Romania to regain Moldova, which it held from 1941 until Soviet forces reconquered the area in 1944.

Moldova declared its independence from the Soviet Union on 27 August 1991. Russian forces, however, remained on Moldovan territory east of the Dniester River to the Russian minority in proclaiming an independent “Transdniester Republic.” This move prompted fighting until a truce was called by Russia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Romania.

Vladimir Voronin, a native of Transdniester and head of the Communist Party, was elected as president in 2001. In February 2003, Voronin proposed a new initiative to settle the dispute with Transdniester. He called for a new constitution that would turn Moldova into a loose confederation of two states and grant the Russian language official status. Both Moldova and Transdniester would have their own governing and legislative bodies and their own budgets. Defense, customs, and monetary systems would be common for the federation.

However, there were reasons to believe that such a plan would not be popular. When plans were announced the previous year (2002) to make Russian an official language, mass protests were held that ended only when the plans were withdrawn. The situation in Transdniester was further complicated by fears among the Slavic population concerning the potential for Moldova’s unification with Romania.

In 2003, discussions took place regarding the possible entry of Moldova into a union with Russia and Belarus. The government was also considering steps toward integration with the European Union.

13 Government

Elections to Moldova’s first post-independence parliament were held on 27 February 1994. The new parliament consists of a single chamber of 101 seats. Members are elected to four-year terms on the basis of proportional representation. The president is elected by parliament for a four-year term and may serve no more than two consecutive terms. The president nominates the prime minister upon consultation with parliament. The cabinet is selected by the prime minister, subject to approval by parliament. Local administration is divided into 40 districts (rayons) which have been reorganized into 9 counties, 1 municipality and 2 territorial units.

In 2005, Vladimir Voronin was elected to a second term as president. Vasile Tarlev was designated as prime minister.

14 Political Parties

In 2005, the primary political parties represented in parliament included: the Communist Party (which had the majority), the democratic Moldova Block (centrist and pro-Russian), and the Christian Democratic Popular Party (rightist and pro-Romanian). Other parties include the Agrarian Party, the Party of renewal and Conciliation, and the Social-Democratic Alliance of Moldova.

15 Judicial System

There are district courts of first instance, five regional tribunals, a higher appeals court, a supreme court, and a constitutional court. The supreme court is divided into civil and criminal sections. As of 2003, there was a backlog of cases at the tribunal and the higher appeals court levels due to lack of funding.

16 Armed Forces

In 2005, the active armed forces numbered approximately 6,750 members, with reserves of 66,000. There is also a paramilitary force of

2,379 internal troops and 900 riot police. The defense budget for 2005 was $9.2 million.

17 Economy

Manufacturing is concentrated mainly in food processing and other light industry. Droughts and trade disruptions following the dissolution of the former Soviet Union combined to cause steep declines in the economy during the early 1990s. The Moldovan government has adopted an ambitious economic reform agenda, including a stable convertible currency, price reform, privatization, and the removal of controls over exports and interest rates.

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

Moldova has no major mineral deposits and must import all of its supplies of coal, oil, and natural gas. Energy shortages have been a problem. Moldova is seeking alternative energy sources and working to develop its own energy supplies including solar power, wind, and geothermal.

Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest economies and is heavily in debt. About 25% of Moldova’s external debt is traceable to energy imports from Russia. The external debt burden peaked at 75% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2000, but had eased to 58% in 2002.

18 Income

In 2005, Moldova’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $9.4 billion, or about $2,100 per person. The average growth rate of the GDP was 7%. Inflation in 2002 stood at 12%. In 2003, remittances from citizens working abroad amount to $465 million, or about 23.5% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $117 million.

19 Industry

The most prominent industries are food processing, electric energy, engineering and metal processing, production of construction materials, and forestry, wood processing, and pulp and paper production. Other industrial products include agricultural machinery, foundry equipment, shoes, hosiery, textiles, washing machines, refrigerators, and freezers. Industry accounts for about 23% of the economy.

20 Labor

Total civilian employment in 2005 was 1.34 million. As of 2003, about 16% were in industry, 43% in agriculture, and 41% in services. The unemployment rate in 2002 was 8%. Approximately 25% of working-age Moldovans are employed outside the country.

The minimum working age is 18, but those between 16 and 18 years of age may work under certain restrictions. Children generally do not work except in agriculture on family farms. In 2002, the monthly minimum wage was $9.00 in the public sector and $12.75 in private firms.

21 Agriculture

Cropland covers about 65% of the Moldovan land area. In 2003, agriculture employed 43% of the work force. In 2004, agriculture accounted for about 21% of GDP. Moldovan crops and

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

their 2004 production amounts included 907,000 tons of sugar beets, 690,000 tons of wheat, 600,000 tons of grapes, 1.8 million tons of corn, 331,000 tons of sunflowers, 260,000 tons of barley, 318,000 tons of potatoes, and 35,000 tons of soybeans.

Wine and tobacco products are important agricultural exports. Wine exports in 2003 were estimated at 20 million liters (5.2 million gallons). Tobacco production in 2004 was 10,200 tons.

22 Domesticated Animals

About 13% of the total land area consists of pastureland. In 2005, the livestock population included 400,000 head of cattle, 500,000 pigs, 830,000 sheep, 115,000 goats, and 14 million chickens. Pork production amounted to 38,500 tons and 23,500 tons of beef were produced. Products also included 630,000 tons of cow’s milk and 43,000 tons of eggs.

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

23 Fishing

With no direct connection to the Black Sea, fishing is limited to the Dniester River. The total catch in 2003 was 2,981 tons, with carp accounting for 93% of the landings. Commercial fishing is not a significant part of the national economy.

24 Forestry

Forested areas account for about 9.9% of the total land area. Production is largely domestically consumed. Wood and paper product imports in 2004 amounted to $29.2 million.

25 Mining

Moldova does not possess significant mineral resources. More than 100 deposits of gypsum, limestone, sand, and stone have been exploited. Production totals for 2002 included 35,273 tons of gypsum, 3,858 tons of lime, and 330,693 tons of cement. Moldova also produced crude steel, peat, oil, and natural gas.

26 Foreign Trade

Traditionally, Moldova has maintained a trade surplus with the other Soviet republics and a trade deficit with the rest of the world. However, as of 2005 Moldova’s only significant trade surplus is with Russia. Total imports almost double total exports.

Exports consist mostly of wine, apparel, tobacco, glassware, and meat. Gas, oil, coal, industrial supplies, machinery, and food are the main imports. Primary import partners are Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Germany, and Italy. Primary export partners are Italy, Romania, Germany, Ukraine, Belarus, and the United States.

27 Energy and Power

There are no proven reserves of oil, natural gas, or coal. Moldova imports nearly all of its energy needs. Refined oil products and natural gas come from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Total electricity generation in 2002 was 3.9 billion kilowatt hours.

28 Social Development

A social insurance system provides benefits for old age, disability, and survivorship in addition to family allowances and worker’s compensation for injury and unemployment. Medical care is available to all residents. Moldova has broad legislation for the protection of children,

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

IndicatorMoldovaLow-income countriesHigh-income countriesUnited States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$1,950 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate-0.2% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land128 803032
Life expectancy in years: male65 587675
female72 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people2.6 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)19 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)98.4% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people296 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people95 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)772 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)1.62 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

including programs for paid maternity leave. There are extensive vaccination and other health care programs for children. Although women are accorded equal rights under the law, they are underrepresented in government and other leadership positions. There also is higher unemployment among women than among men. The minority Roma population has suffered violence and harassment.

29 Health

As of 2004, there were an estimated 26 physicians per 100,000 people. In 2005, average life expectancy was 66 years and the infant mortality rate was 40 per 1,000 live births. Epidemic diphtheria has been a problem. As of 2004, the number of people living with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) was estimated at 5,500. Deaths from AIDS in 2003 were estimated at 300.

In 2000, there were about 1.3 million housing units nationwide. Most residents find home ownership to be far too expensive in a poor economy. The existing housing stock is in serious disrepair. Only about 28.9% of all dwellings have an indoor bathroom. Only 31% have access to a sewage system. About 62% of all households use wells as a primary source of water. Most new housing is built with brick or stone and concrete frames.

31 Education

Education is compulsory for 11 years, between the ages of 6 and 17. Primary school covers four years of study, followed by five years of secondary school. In 2003, about 79% of all age-eligible students were enrolled in primary school while 69% of age-eligible students were enrolled in secondary school. The student-teacher ratio for primary school was estimated at 19 to 1. The student-teacher ratio for secondary school was estimated at 13 to 1.

The Moldovan State University was founded in 1945 and uses both Moldovan and Russian as languages of instruction. In 2003, about 30% of the adult population was enrolled in some type of higher education program. As of 2006, the adult literacy rate had been estimated at 98.4%.

32 Media

In 2003, there were 219 mainline telephones and 132 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people. Also in 2003, there were 20 radio stations and 30 television stations in operation. The same year, there were about 758 radios and 296 televisions for every 1,000 people. There were 17.5 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 95 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet.

The largest newspapers in 2002 were Moldova Suverana (Sovereign Moldova, circulation 105,000), Nezavisimaya Moldova (Independent Moldova, circulation 60,692), and Viata Satului (Life of the Village, circulation 50,000).

33 Tourism and Recreation

Picturesque scenery and several wineries are the primary attractions of Moldova. Civil unrest after Moldova’s independence delayed the development of tourism. In 2003, there were 23.598 tourist arrivals and tourism receipts totaled $83 million. There were about 2,559 hotel rooms with 4,632 beds and an occupancy rate of 22%.

34 Famous Moldovans

Petru Lucinschi was elected president in December 1996, succeeding Mircea Ion Snegur; Vladimir Voronin became president in 2001.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Brezianu, Andrei. Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Moldova. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2000.

Moldova. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications Co., 1993.

Sheehan, Patricia. Moldova. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2000.

WEB SITES

Aquastat. www.fao.org/ag/Agl/AGLW/aquastat/countries/moldova_rep/index.stm. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/eur/ci/md/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Government Home Page. gov.md. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

World Heritage List. whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/md. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

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Moldova

Moldova

Compiled from the August 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Moldova

PROFILE

PEOPLE AND HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

DEFENSE AND MILITARY ISSUES

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-MOLDOVAN RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 33,843 sq. km. (13,000 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Maryland.

Cities: Capital—Chisinau.

Terrain: Rolling steppe, gradual slope south to Black Sea.

Climate: Moderate winters, warm summers.

Time Zone: GMT+2

People

Nationality: Noun—Moldovan(s). Adjective—Moldovan.

Population: (January 2006) 3.39 million, excluding the estimated Transnistrian population of 580,000.

Population growth rate: (2005) 0.5% (est.).

Ethnic groups: (2004 census) Mold-ovan (83.7%), Ukrainian (6.6%), Russian (1.7%), Gagauz (4.5%), Bulgarian (1.7%), Romanian (1.4%), other (0.4%).

Religions: Christian Orthodox (93.3%), Baptist (1%), Adventist, Roman Catholic, Jewish.

Languages: Romanian (officially known as Moldovan), Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz.

Education: Literacy—96%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—12/1,000. Life expectancy—68.4 years.

Work force: (1.3 million) Agriculture—41%; industry—12%; other—47%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Constitution: Adopted July 28, 1994.

Independence: August 27, 1991 (from Soviet Union).

Government branches: Executive—President (head of state), Prime Minister (head of Government), Government (cabinet). Legislative—unicameral Parliament. Judicial—Supreme Court.

Political subdivisions: 32 counties (raions), 4 municipalities, and one autonomous territorial unit.

Political parties: Communist Party, Christian Democratic People’s Party, Our Moldova Alliance, Democratic Party, Social Liberal Party, Social-Democratic Party, and the Party for Social Democracy.

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2005) $2.9 billion ($2.6 billion in 2004; $2.0 billion in 2003).

GDP real growth rate: (January-March 2006) 6.2% (7.1% in 2005; 7.4% in 2004; 6.6% in 2003; 7.8% in 2002).

Per capita GDP: (2005) $890 ($766 in 2004; $540 in 2003: $448 in 2002).

Natural resources: Lignite, phosphates, gypsum, arable land, and limestone.

Agriculture: Products—vegetables, fruits, wine and spirits, grain, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, meat, milk, eggs, tobacco, walnuts.

Industry: Types—processed foods and beverages, including wine and refined sugar; processed fruit and vegetable products, including vegetable oil; dairy and meat products; tobacco items; metal processing and production of machinery; textiles and clothing, shoes; furniture.

Trade: (2005) Exports—$1.091 billion (of which 50% go to countries outside the former Soviet Union) foodstuffs, wine, textiles, clothing, footwear and machinery. Major markets—Russia, Italy, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, Germany. Imports—$2.312 billion (of which 60% come from countries outside the former Soviet Union) gas, oil, coal, steel, machinery and equipment, chemical products, textiles, foodstuffs, automobiles, and other consumer durables. Major suppliers—Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Germany, Italy.

Currency: Moldovan Leu (plural Lei).

Exchange rate: Lei/US$: (2005) 12.60; 12.83 (end of year); (12.33 average in 2004); (13.94 average in 2003); (13.57 average in 2002).

PEOPLE AND HISTORY

Ethnic groups represented in Mold-ova include Moldovan/Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Gagauz, and Bulgarian. Romanian (officially known as Moldovan) is the official language; Russian, Ukrainian, and Gagauz also are spoken. The great majority of Moldova’s population is Christian Orthodox—90% of the population nominally belongs to one of the two main Orthodox denominations.

The Moldovan Orthodox Church, an autonomous diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church and loyal to the Patriarch of Moscow, has 1,194 parishes; the Bessarabian Orthodox Church, affiliated with the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate in Bucharest, has 124 parishes. In addition, followers of the Old Rite Russian Orthodox Church (Old Believers) make up approximately 3.6% of the population.

The Republic of Moldova occupies most of what has been known as Bessarabia. Moldova’s location has made it a historic passageway between Asia and southern Europe, as well as the victim of frequent warfare. Greeks, Romans, Huns, and Bulgars invaded the area, which in the 13th century became part of the Mongol empire. An independent Moldovan state emerged briefly in the 14th century under celebrated leader Stefan the Great but subsequently fell under Ottoman Turkish rule in the 16th century.

After the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12, the eastern half of Moldova (Bessarabia) between the Prut and the Dniester Rivers was ceded to Russia, while Romanian Moldavia (west of the Prut) remained with the Turks. Romania, which gained independence in 1878, took control of Russian-ruled Bessarabia in 1918. The Soviet Union never recognized the action and created an autonomous Moldavian republic on the east side of the Dniester River in 1924.

In 1940, Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), which established the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic by merging the autonomous republic east of the Dniester and the annexed Bessarabian portion. Stalin also stripped the three southern counties along the Black Sea coast from Moldova and incorporated them in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Romania sought to regain Bessarabia by joining with Germany in the 1941 attack on the Soviet Union. However, Moldova was ceded back to Moscow when hostilities between the U.S.S.R. and Romania ceased at the end of World War II. The present boundary between Mold-ova and Romania was established in 1947.

In September 1990, the Supreme Soviet elected Mircea Snegur as President of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova. A former Communist Party official, he endorsed independence from the Soviet Union and actively sought Western recognition. On May 23, 1991, the Supreme Soviet renamed itself the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, which subsequently declared its independence from the U.S.S.R.

In August 1991, Moldova’s transition to democracy initially had been impeded by an ineffective Parliament, the lack of a new constitution, a separatist movement led by the Gagauz (Christian Turkic) minority in the south, and unrest in the Transnistria region on the left bank of the Nistru/Dniester River, where a separatist movement declared a “Transdniester Moldovan Republic” in September 1990.

The Russian 14th Army intervened to stem widespread violence and support the Transnistrian regime which is led by supporters of the 1991 coup attempt in Moscow. In 1992, the government negotiated a ceasefire arrangement with Russian and Transnistrian officials, although tensions continue, and negotiations are ongoing. In February 1994, new legislative elections were held, and the ineffective Parliament that had been elected in 1990 to a 5-year term was replaced. A new constitution was adopted in July 1994. The conflict with the Gagauz minority was defused by the granting of local autonomy in 1994.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

In 2000, Parliament passed a decree making Moldova a parliamentary republic, with the president elected by Parliament instead of by popular vote. Widespread popular dissatisfaction with previous governments and economic hardship led to a surprise at the polls in February 2001. In elections certified by international observers as free and fair, slightly over half of Moldova’s voters cast their ballots for the Communist Party. Under the rules of Moldova’s proportional representation system, the Communist faction, which in the previous Parliament consisted of 40 of Parliament’s 101 seats, jumped to 71—a clear majority. The Parliament then elected the leader of the Communist faction, Vladimir Voronin, to be President.

President Voronin’s first term was marked by up and down relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Politically, the government was committed to the reduction of poverty by allocating more resources to social safety net items such as health, education, and increasing pensions and salaries. Voronin proceeded with former President Lucinschi’s plans to privatize several important state-owned industries and even on occasion broke with his own party over important issues.

Under President Voronin, relations with the United States have remained strong. From January to April 2002, large demonstrations took place in opposition to several controversial government proposals, including expanded use of the Russian language in schools and its designation as an official language. While the demonstrations were sometimes tense, the government did not use force and ultimately agreed to Council of Europe (CoE) mediation.

In March 2005 parliamentary elections, the Communist Party received 46.1% of the vote, or 56 seats in the 101-member Parliament—more than enough for the 51-vote minimum required to form a government, but short of the 61 votes necessary to elect a president. However, President Voronin was re-elected with support from the Christian Democratic People’s Party and from the Democratic and Social Liberal party factions, after Voronin promised to deliver on needed reforms and Euro-Atlantic integration for the country. These defections broke apart the opposition unity of the pre-election Moldovan Democratic Bloc, led by Our Moldova Alliance (AMN) faction leader and former Chisinau Mayor Serafim Urechean.

Local elections in May and June 2003—the first nationwide contests since the Communists came to power—did not meet the relatively high electoral standards set in previous Moldovan elections, according to international observers. While the voting itself generally met international standards, the government’s behavior in the campaign period—including bias in state media, misuse of administrative resources, and the arrests of two opposition mayors—represented a step backward.

The Communists won the largest share of votes, but lost in the country’s highest-profile race, for mayor of Chisinau. Former Mayor and AMN leader Serafim Urechean decided to give up his mayoral seat to retain his mandate as an elected parliamentarian in the March 2005 elections, as Moldovan legislation prohibits holding both positions simultaneously. Early mayoral elections for Chisinau were held in July 2005 but were declared invalid due to low turnout. Elections in the semi-autonomous region of Gagauzia will be held in 2006, and local elections across Mold-ova are scheduled for 2007.

In addition to state-sponsored media, there are several independent newspapers,

radio and television stations, and news services. The independent media organizations, along with some that are affiliated with political parties, often criticize government policies. In August 2004, Teleradio Moldova (TRM) was officially transformed from a state-owned company into a public broadcaster. However, journalists and civil society representatives, who claimed the process was nontransparent and meant to stack the new TRM staff with those favorable to the government, met this move with large protests.

Peaceful assembly is allowed, though permits for demonstrations must be obtained; private organizations, including political parties, are required to register with the government. Legislation passed in 1992 codified freedom of religion but required that religious groups register with the government.

In February 2005, Brussels and Chisinau agreed on a European Union (EU)-Moldova Action Plan, a “road-map” of reforms to strengthen the democratic and economic situation of the country and facilitate its Euro-Atlantic integration. Although Mold-ova has made some progress toward laying the structural and legislative foundation for reform, the EU has emphasized that more implementation is needed.

Transnistria

The population of the Moldovan region of Transnistria is approximately 40% Romanian/Moldovan, 28% Ukrainian, and 23% Russian. Separatist forces maintain control of the Transnistrian region, which lies along the Ukrainian border. Moldova has tried to meet the Russian minor-ity’s demands by offering the region rather broad cultural and political autonomy. The dispute has strained Moldova’s relations with Russia. The July 1992 ceasefire agreement established a tripartite peacekeeping force comprised of Moldovan, Russian, and Transnistrian units.

Negotiations to resolve the conflict continue, and the ceasefire is still in effect. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is trying to facilitate a negotiated settlement and has had an observer mission in place for several years. In July 2002, OSCE, Russian, and Ukrainian mediators approved a document setting forth a blueprint for reuniting Moldova under a federal system. Over the next year and a half, the settlement talks alternated between periods of forward momentum and periods of no progress. In February 2003, the U.S. and EU imposed visa restrictions against the Transnistrian leadership. In April 2003, the Moldovan Government and the Transnistrian authorities agreed to establish a joint commission to draft a constitution for a reintegrated state. However, fundamental disagreements over the division of powers remained, and a settlement proved elusive.

In a surprise move, President Voronin decided not to sign a Russian-brokered settlement with Transnistria in November 2003; the proposal—seen by many as pro-Transnistrian—sparked opposition protests. During the summer of 2004, the Transnistrian separatists forcibly closed several Romanian language Latin-script schools in the region, for which the regime was subject to international condemnation. In 2005, the Transnistrian regime prevented several farmers on the right bank of the Nistru River from working their fields on the left bank, within Transnistria’s “borders.” The OSCE Mission to Moldova eventually mediated solutions to these crises.

After a 15-month pause, the sides met for a renewed round of settlement negotiations in October 2005. Mediators from Ukraine, Russia, and the OSCE joined the Moldovan and Transnistrian representatives at the talks. In addition, the U.S. and EU joined the talks as observers. However, subsequent “5+2” negotiations have made little progress on a settlement or on withdrawal of Russian forces from Moldova.

Russia still has weapons and munitions of the Operational Group of Russian Forces (formerly the Russian 14th Army) stationed in Transnistria, although it pledged to remove them under a timetable established at the 1999 OSCE Ministerial—the so-called “Istanbul Accords.” However, there has been no progress on Russian withdrawals since early 2004.

In response to Moldova’s call for international monitoring of the border, in December 2005 the EU dispatched a Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) to help stem the flow of illegal trade between Ukraine and Moldova. In March 2006, Ukraine and Moldova began implementing a 2003 customs agreement, under which Transnistrian companies seeking to engage in cross-border trade must register in Chisinau. Despite the protests of the Transnistrian regime, most Transnistrian businesses have subsequently registered. In what is seen as a response to the new customs procedures, the Transnistrian regime boycotted the 5+2 talks and declared that a “referendum” on the independence of the regime would be held in September 2006.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 1/24/2007

President: Vladimir VORONIN

Speaker of the Parliament: Marian LUPU

Prime Minister: Vasile TARLEV

First Dep. Prime Min.: Zinaida GRECIANI

Dep. Prime Min.: Andrei STRATAN

Dep. Prime Min.: Vitalie VRABIE

Min. of Agriculture & Food Industry: Anatolie GORODENCO

Min. of Culture & Tourism: Artur COZMA

Min. of Defense: Valeriu PLESCA

Min. of Economics & Trade: Igor DODON

Min. of Education, Youth, & Sport: Victor TVIRCUN

Min. of Environment & Natural Resources: Constantin MIHAILESCU

Min. of Finance: Mihai POP

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Andrei STRATAN

Min. of Health: Ion ABABII

Min. of Industry & Infrastructure: Vladimir ANTOSII

Min. of Information Development: Vladimir MOLOJEN

Min. of Internal Affairs: Gheorghe PAPUC

Min. of Justice: Vitalie PIRLOG

Min. of Local Public Admin.: Vitalie VRABIE

Min. of Reintegration: Vasile SOVA

Min. of Social Protection, Family, & Children: Galina BALMUS

Min. of Transport & Roads Management: Vasile URSU

Sec., Supreme Security Council: Ion MOREI

Prosecutor Gen.: Valeriy BALABAN

Dir., Intelligence & Security Service: Ion URSU

Pres., National Bank: Leonid TALMACI

Ambassador to the US: Nicolae CHIRTOACA

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Alexei TULBURE

Moldova’s embassy in the United States is at 2101 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: 202-667-1130; fax 202-667-1204).

More information about Moldova can be found at the official (Romanian and Russian language) Government of Moldova website at www.mold-ova.md. The Moldova.org site is maintained by the Moldova Foundation, a non-governmental organization, and has some useful links.

ECONOMY

Moldova remains the poorest country in Europe. It is landlocked, bounded by Ukraine on the east and Romania to the west. It is the second smallest of the former Soviet republics and the most densely populated. Industry accounts for only 20% of its labor force, while agriculture’s share is more than one-third.

Moldova’s proximity to the Black Sea gives it a mild and sunny climate. This makes the area ideal for agriculture and food processing, which accounts for about 40% of the country’s GDP. The fertile soil supports wheat, corn, barley, tobacco, sugar beets, and soybeans. Beef and dairy cattle are raised, and beekeeping is widespread. Moldova’s best-known product comes from its extensive and well-developed vineyards concentrated in the central and southern regions. In addition to world-class wine, Moldova produces liqueurs and champagne. It is also known for its sunflower seeds, walnuts, apples, and other fruits.

Like many other former Soviet republics, Moldova has experienced economic difficulties. Since its economy was highly dependent on the rest of the former Soviet Union for energy and raw materials, the breakdown in trade following the breakup of the Soviet Union had a serious effect, exacerbated at times by drought and civil conflict. The Russian ruble devaluation of 1998 had a deleterious effect on Moldova’s economy, but economic growth has been steady since 2000.

Moldova has made progress in economic reform since independence. The government has liberalized most prices and has phased out subsidies on most basic consumer goods. A program begun in March 1993 has privatized 80% of all housing units and nearly 2,000 small, medium, and large enterprises. Other successes include the privatization of nearly all of Moldova’s agricultural land from state to private ownership, as a result of an American assistance program, “Pamint” (“land”), completed in 2000. A stock market opened in June 1995.

Following the economic difficulties caused by the Russian currency crisis of 1998, inflation dropped to 5.2% in 2002, the lowest level since Moldova’s independence. However, inflation spiked again to 11.6% in 2003; 12.4% in 2004, and 11.9% in 2005. The local currency continues to be comparatively stable.

The annual average exchange rate between 2001 and 2005 fluctuated between Leu 12.50 to 13.50 to the U.S. dollar. However, the National Bank of Moldova has been forced to intervene actively on several occasions to bolster the currency market.

Moldova continues to make progress toward developing a viable free-market economy. The country recorded its sixth consecutive year of positive GDP growth in 2005, with year-end real GDP growth of 7.1%. This growth is impressive considering that prior to 2000, Moldova had recorded only one year of positive GDP growth since independence.

Budget execution in 2005 was also positive, as actual state budget revenues exceeded projections by 0.4%. The Moldovan economy continues to depend greatly on remittances sent from Moldovans working abroad. These inflows are estimated at U.S. $400-500 million dollars annually.

Privatization results in 2005 were not significant; total proceeds amounted to U.S. $5.1 million. Several smaller companies and one winery (Cojusna) were privatized in 2005, but the government postponed indefinitely the privatization of several large state enterprises, including two power distribution companies. Sporadic and ineffective enforcement of the law, economic and political uncertainty, and government harassment and interference continue to discourage inflows of foreign direct investment.

Imports continued to grow more rapidly than exports during the first half of 2006. Moldova’s trade deficit worsened as higher-priced energy imports outpaced the value of Moldovan exports, which have been severely limited by Russia’s ban on imports of Moldovan wine and agricultural products. Moldova traditionally exported between 70-80% of its wine production to Russia.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank resumed lending to Moldova in July 2002, and then suspended lending again in July 2003. In early 2006, Moldova reached agreement with the Paris Club on rescheduling of Moldova’s foreign debt. In addition, in the spring of 2006, the IMF reached an agreement with the Moldovan Government for a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility designed to bolster foreign reserves against external shocks with a 3-year, $117 million program that includes a new IMF loan to the National Bank of Moldova.

Moldova continues to be subject to Russian economic pressure. In 2005, Russia enacted a ban on Moldovan agricultural products, and in 2006 it banned imports of Moldovan wines. The wine ban has been particularly painful because, prior to the ban, Moldovan wine sales approached 15% of GNP, and it exported approximately 80% of its wine to Russia. In January 2006, Russian energy giant Gazprom temporarily cut off natural gas deliveries to Ukraine and Moldova —which is almost completely dependent on its neighbors for energy—and subsequently doubled the price of gas to Moldova. The impact has been substantial: Mold-ova’s exports to Russia declined by 38.9% in the first half of 2006 and total exports dropped 8.5%.

DEFENSE AND MILITARY ISSUES

Moldova has accepted all relevant arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union. On October 30, 1992, Moldova ratified the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment and provides for the destruction of weapons in excess of those limits. It acceded to the provisions of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in October 1994 and to the Biological Weapons Convention in December 2004. It does not have nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Moldova joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Partnership for Peace on March 16, 1994. Due to Moldova’s constitutional neutrality, it is not a participant in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS—a group of 12 former Soviet republics) Collective Security Agreement.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Moldova’s Parliament approved the country’s membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States and a CIS charter on economic union in April 1994.

In 1995, the country became the first former Soviet republic admitted to the Council of Europe. In addition to its membership in NATO’s Partnership for Peace, Moldova also belongs to the United Nations, the OSCE, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Moldova is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In 1998, Moldova contributed to the founding of GUAM, a regional cooperative agreement made up of Georgia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan, in addition to Moldova. Although the agreement initially included a declaration of mutual defense, Moldova has since declared its disinterest in participating in any GUAM-based mutual defense initiative.

Moldova has been involved in information exchange, trade and transportation, border control, and energy projects issues within this regional agreement. In 2006, the organization’s members voted to change the name to the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development—GUAM.

In the atmosphere of heightened international sensitivity to terrorism following the events of September 11, 2001, Moldova has been a supporter of American efforts to increase international cooperation in combating terrorism. Moldova has sent demining units and peacekeepers to participate in post-conflict humanitarian assistance in Iraq.

U.S.-MOLDOVAN RELATIONS

The dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991 brought an end to the Cold War and created the opportunity to build bilateral relations with the 15 new states that had made up the former U.S.S.R., as they began political and economic transformation. The United States recognized the independence of Moldova on December 25, 1991 and opened an Embassy in its capital, Chisinau, in March 1992.

A trade agreement providing reciprocal most-favored-nation tariff treatment became effective in July 1992. An Overseas Private Investment Corporation agreement, which encourages U.S. private investment by providing direct loans and loan guarantees, was signed in June 1992. A bilateral investment treaty was signed in April 1993. Generalized system of preferences status was granted in August 1995, and some Eximbank coverage became available in November 1995.

The past year has seen significant developments in Moldova’s relations with the West. In 2005, the European Union appointed a Special Representative for Moldova and the negotiations to resolve the Transnistrian conflict and the Delegation of the European Commission opened an office in Chisinau. In December 2005, Moldova welcomed an EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) along its Ukrainian border to crack down on smuggling, strengthen customs procedures, and facilitate cross-border cooperation. In accordance with a 2005 Action Plan with the EU, Mold-ova has begun to harmonize Mold-ova’s laws with those of the EU.

As part of this, in late 2005, Moldova enacted its “Guillotine” laws, which slashed unnecessary business regulations, established a framework for relations between the private sector and government, and created a mechanism to review the suitability of draft legislation. In addition, Mold-ova is currently negotiating a Threshold Country Program focused on fighting corruption—still a significant obstacle to development—with the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

CHISINAU (E) Address: 103 Str. A. Mateevici; Phone: 373-22-40-8300; Fax: 373-22-23-3044; INMARSAT Tel: 6-831-32845; Workweek: M-F 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.; Website: www.usembassy.md.

AMB:Michael D. Kirby
AMB OMS:Stephan H. Rogerson
DCM:Kelly A. Keiderling
DCM OMS:Janice Forman
POL:H. Martin McDowell
POL/ECO:Michael J. Mates
COM:Ernest Abisellan
CON:Marlin Hardinger
MGT:Stan Parmentier
AFSA:Robert Glunt
AID:John Starnes
CLO:Paula Kelley-Clarke
DAO:Thomas Butler
ECO:H. Martin McDowell
EEO:Lysa Prifold
FMO:Stan Parmentier
GSO:Nicole Specians
ICASS Chair:Jeffrey Kelley-Clarke
IMO:Robert Glunt
IRS:Susan Stanley
ISO:Joel Waters
ISSO:Joel Waters
LEGATT:Robert Gerardi
PAO:John Balian
RSO:Cameron Burks
State ICASS:David Franz

Last Updated: 1/5/2007

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : December 8, 2006

Country Description: Moldova is a republic with a freely elected government. It has been an independent nation since 1991. Its capital, Chisinau, offers adequate hotels and restaurants, but tourist facilities in other parts of the country are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available.

Entry/Exit Requirements: On June 28 President Voronin signed into law a act which will exempt citizens of the United States, EU member states, Canada, Switzerland and Japan from visa requirements starting January 1, 2007. These nationals will no longer need Moldovan visas and will be able to stay in the country for up to 90 days within a six-month period without registration.

In the interim, American citizens can obtain a visa from a Moldovan diplomatic mission abroad before traveling to Moldova. Alternatively, American citizens holding passports still valid for 6 months can obtain visas at the Chisinau International Airport or at specific border crossings, but only for stays of up to 90 days. American citizens are no longer required to have an invitation from a Moldovan citizen or entity in order to obtain a visa. For more information on entry requirements, please contact the Moldovan Embassy, 2101 S Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone: (202) 667-1130, (202) 667-1131, or (202) 667-1137, fax: (202) 667-1204, email: [email protected] dgs.dgsys.com. Travelers may also wish to consult the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website for general information on Moldovan visas and for application forms: http://www.mfa.md/En/ConsularInf/Visas-Info.htm.

Safety and Security: The U.S. Government has no information related to the targeting of U.S. citizens, interests or facilities by terrorist organizations in Moldova, and no Americans have been killed or injured as a result of terrorist activity in Moldova. However, the U.S. government remains deeply concerned about the heightened threat of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests abroad. Americans are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution. Because Moldovan Government authorities often ask to see identification on the street, Americans should carry a copy of their passport with them at all times.

A separatist regime controls a narrow strip of land in the Transnistria region of eastern Moldova. The United States and other countries do not recognize this regime. Since no formal diplomatic relations exist between the United States and local authorities there, the provision of consular assistance to American citizens cannot be ensured. Travelers should exercise caution in visiting or transiting the area.

Travelers should be aware that there are numerous road checkpoints along the roads into and out of the Transnistria region. Taking photographs of checkpoints into and out of the Transnistria region or the personnel working there is prohibited.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Moldova’s economic difficulties, as well as increased organized criminal activity and more frequent travel by foreigners to Moldova, contribute to the risk visitors face from street crime, some potentially violent. While this risk is no greater than in most cities in the United States, many Americans have reported theft of money and small valuables from hotel rooms and local apartments. Cases of breaking and entering into homes and offices have occurred. Travelers are wise to exercise the same precautions with regard to personal safety and protection of valuables in Chisinau that they would in any major U.S. city.

Precautions should also be taken when using ATM machines in Mold-ova. Some Americans have reported unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts after using ATMs. Instances have been reported of PIN theft from use of ATMs in Moldova, either by “skimming” devices, which record the ATM card information while in use, or by surreptitious observation.

Train and bus services are below Western European standards and some U.S. citizens have been victims of crimes involving theft while traveling on international trains to and from Moldova.

Americans who use the Moldovan postal service report frequent losses from international letter and package mail.

Internet Fraud Warning: The Embassy is aware of various confidence schemes that have taken advantage of American citizens, frequently via the Internet. In some cases these involve the purchase or sale of items on the Internet in which the payment or shipment of goods was not completed by a Moldovan counterpart. In the spring of 2006, Moldovan police recovered over $250,000 in jewelry that was sent to “buyers” in Moldova from the U.S. via fake online escrow companies. Substantial criminal enterprises specializing in this type of crime (Internet auction fraud) are emerging in Mold-ova. In other cases, American citizens, particularly males, have met potential Moldovan fiancé(e)s on the Internet who have convinced them to send hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but have no intention of a serious relationship.

Once the American citizen starts to question the reason for sending the money, the Moldovan fiancé(e)s suddenly ends his/her contact. On occasion, American citizens who come to Moldova to visit someone they have first met over the Internet have reported becoming subject to crimes such as extortion and involuntary detention. American citizens should be aware that any such activity committed by individuals in Moldova is subject to the Moldovan legal system and could prove difficult to prosecute. In the vast majority of cases, there is little that the U.S. Embassy can do to assist American citizens who are defrauded by Moldovans via the Internet.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.

Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care in Mold-ova is substandard throughout the country including in Chisinau. In the event of serious medical conditions every effort should be made to go to Western Europe. Hospital accommodations are inadequate throughout the country and advanced technology is lacking.

Shortages of routine medications and supplies may be encountered. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate medical facilities. The U.S. Embassy maintains lists of medical facilities and English-speaking doctors, but cannot guarantee or endorse competence. Visitors to Moldova are advised to bring their own supply of both prescription and common over-the-counter medications.

Pharmacies are not stocked to Western standards and products are not labeled in English. Poor quality and/or fraudulent medications have been reported.

Major health concerns include Hepatitis A (food-borne), Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C (blood and body fluids-borne). The incidence of sexually transmitted diseases is high as in most developing countries. Tuberculosis is common in Moldova and the World Health Organization has placed it in its “highest risk” category. Travelers planning to stay in Mold-ova for more than 3 months should have a pre-departure PPD skin test status documented. Travelers should limit their exposure to TB by avoiding crowded public places and public transportation whenever possible. Domestic help should be screened for TB.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Moldova is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Moldova’s highway infrastructure consists mainly of two-lane roads that often lack markings or signage, are unevenly maintained and seldom have lighting. Caution should be taken to prevent collisions with agricultural vehicles and/or livestock. Urban roads in Moldova are infrequently maintained and often lack clear signs or lane markings. Travel outside of urban areas before dawn and after dusk should be avoided if at all possible.

Drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution to avoid accidents, which are commonplace. Many Moldovan drivers would be considered aggressive or erratic by American standards. Many accidents involve drunk drivers. The quality and safety of public transportation vary widely. Trains, trolleybuses, and buses are often old and may frequently break down. Taxis are available in most urban areas, but vary from old Soviet-era vehicles to newer, Western European or American model vehicles.

Visit the website of the country’s national tourist office at http://www.turism.md/.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Moldova, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Moldova’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Travelers are advised to register any foreign currency brought into Moldova with customs authorities upon entering the country. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Moldova in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Registration: Current Moldovan Government (GOM) border registration procedures will remain unchanged under the new immigration law. Currently, U.S. and most other foreign nationals arriving in Moldova can obtain a visa and register at the point of entry (i.e., airport or border). The Border Guard Service enters the traveler’s personal data into a computer program and transfers the data to the GOM’s Population Register. Visitors are no longer given a paper “registration receipt.”

For stays exceeding 90 days, foreign nationals will be required to obtain “immigration certificates” and residence permits from the National Bureau for Migration. Foreign nationals planning to work in Mold-ova must also obtain a work permit. Immigration, residence and work permits usually need to be extended annually, but may be issued for up to five years.

Until January 1, 2007, U.S. and other citizens will require a Moldovan visa. Although they may enter Moldova from Ukraine through the secession-ist-controlled Transnistria region, they will be unable to obtain a visa at a border crossing (because the border is not under GOM control) and may face possible penalties in Moldova for illegal entry. Therefore, until January 1, 2007, U.S. citizens planning to enter Moldova overland through Ukraine are strongly encouraged to obtain their visas in advance (e.g., from the Moldovan Embassy in Washington or Kyiv).

When the new law goes into effect, U.S. citizens will be able to enter Moldova through Transnistria without having to obtain visas or registration documents at the border. However, because they will not have been registered at the border, they will still have to register with the nearest office of the Ministry of Information Development (MID) within three days of arrival.

For more information on registering with Moldovan authorities, U.S. citizens are encouraged to call the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau at (373) (22) 40-83-00.

Requirement to Carry Documentation: As noted above, Moldovan police have the right to request identity documents from any person. Individuals who fail to produce appropriate ID upon request may be subject to detention and fines. Therefore, Americans are advised to carry their U.S. passports (or a copy of their passport’s biographical information page) with registration card, if applicable, or a Moldovan-issued identification document when in public.

Consular Access: Moldovan law enforcement authorities have an uneven record of reporting the arrest or detention of American citizens to the U.S. Embassy, as required under international agreements. American citizens are therefore advised that if they are detained or arrested by Moldovan authorities, they should immediately request that the U.S. Embassy be contacted. Moldovan authorities have generally respected such requests in a prompt manner.

Americans sometimes report encounters with police or other Moldovan officials in which they are pressured to pay a bribe. Such low-level bribery attempts are commonplace in Mold-ova. These encounters should always be reported to the U.S. Embassy. Americans who have refused to pay bribes in Moldova generally report no consequences beyond being delayed or inconvenienced.

Photography: Americans who choose to travel in Transnistria should be aware that foreigners have reported being detained or harassed by authorities for taking photographs of military facilities or public buildings. Photography of checkpoints into and out of the Transnistria region or the personnel working there is prohibited.

Dual Nationality: Moldovan legislation allowing dual citizenship went into effect on October 18, 2003. There is no requirement that dual nationals enter Moldova on their Moldovan passports. For further questions, please contact the Moldovan Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Telephone and Postal Services: Outside of Chisinau, travelers may have difficulty finding public telephones and receiving or making international and local calls. Losses have been reported from international letter and package mail, both of which are subject to a customs inspection before delivery. “Express” mail services such as DHL and Federal Express are available in Chisinau, although in most instances prices are high, and shipments arrive from (or reach) the U.S. in no less than five (5) business days.

Disabled Access: Persons with disabilities should be aware that public facilities and transportation in Mold-ova are rarely designed or built in a way that allows for wheelchair access. Wheelchair entrances, ramps, lifts or similar accommodations are rare; those that do exist are often below Western standards and/or poorly maintained.

Most streets, sidewalks and other public paths are not well maintained and can be hazardous, particularly in poor weather conditions.

Commercial Transactions: Although still generally a cash-only economy, traveler’s checks and credit cards are becoming increasingly accepted in Chisinau, although locations that will accept them outside the capital are still rare.

Caution is advised, however, as some travelers have reported incidents of unauthorized expenditures made on credit cards during or following their use in Moldova, and there have also been reported incidents of fraud and account theft using bank machines.

Business in Transnistria: A separatist regime controls a narrow strip of land in eastern Moldova known as Transnistria (“Pridnestrovie” in Russian). Individuals considering doing business in Transnistria should exercise extreme caution. The Embassy may not be able to offer consular or commercial services to Americans in Transnistria. Moldovan law requires firms (including those located in Transnistria) to register with the Moldovan Government and to use Moldovan customs seals on their exports.

Under a December 2005 agreement between Moldova and Ukraine, Ukrainian customs and border officials require Moldovan customs seals on goods exported from Moldova, including Transnistria, and are enforcing this requirement with EU assistance. Transnistrian firms not legally registered with Moldovan authorities operate in contravention of Moldovan law, which may complicate or prevent the import or export of goods. The Government of Moldova has indicated that it will not recognize the validity of contracts for the privatization of firms in Transnistria that are concluded without the approval of the appropriate Moldovan authorities. A number of Internet fraud schemes have originated in Transnistria.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Moldovan laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Moldova are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Moldova are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Moldova. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in Chisinau, Moldova, Strada Alexei Mateevici 103; telephone: (373)(22) 23-37-72, after-hours telephone: (373)(22) 23-73-45; Consular Section Fax: (373)(22) 22-63-61. The Embassy’s website is http://moldova.usembassy.gov.

International Adoption : October 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: The Government of Moldova temporarily suspended intercountry adoptions for most of 2005 as the new National Committee for Adoptions (NCA) reaccredited all active adoption agencies operating in Moldova. In early 2006, the NCA allowed reaccredited adoption agencies to process cases and several families completed their adoptions.

Moldova has not passed a comprehensive adoption law and, on June 27, 2006, the Moldovan Constitutional Court ruled that the creation and existence of the NCA were unconstitutional. The U.S. Embassy is working with Moldovan officials to clarify the status of intercountry adoptions from Moldova. This flyer will be updated as more information becomes available.

Patterns of Immigration: Inter-country adoptions are permitted in exceptional cases, when no relatives or other Moldovan families are able to adopt orphans or become their guardians.

Children who have health or developmental problems that Moldovan families cannot afford to treat are also considered exceptional cases. Information about children eligible for adoption is published in the Monitorul Official, the Moldovan government’s official register.

For the first six months after this information is published, an adoptable child is eligible only for domestic adoption by Moldovan citizens. After six months, an adoptable child is eligible for intercountry adoption. Prospective adoptive parents may indicate the sex and age range they prefer.

Adoption Authority:
Ms. Eugenia Goncear
General Director
The National Committee
for Adoption
# 1, Piata Marii Adunari Nationale,
room # 661
Chisinau, Moldova
Tel: (373 22) 250 158
Fax: (373 22) 250 439

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: The minimum age requirement for adoptive parents is 25, and the maximum is 50, unless one of the couple is under the age of 50. Married couples and single people may adopt; unmarried couples may not adopt from Moldova. Please review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements for foreign adoptive parents.

Time Frame: An adoption can take six to nine months to complete from the time a child is matched with prospective adoptive parents until the completion of the adoption.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Prospective adoptive parents are required to use an accredited adoption agency when adopting in Moldova. There are seven U.S.-based adoption agencies accredited by the National Committee for Adoption, The list may be found at: http://mold-ova.usembassy.gov/international_adoption.html. A list of local attorneys is available on the Embassy’s web site at: http://moldova.usembassy.gov/local_lawyers.html.

Adoption Fees: There is a government fee of 1,500 Euros for each adopted child and cost of airfare for adoption-related travel. Separate attorneys’ fees can vary greatly.

Adoption Procedures: To begin the adoption process, a registered adoption agency, through its Moldovan representative, forwards the foreign prospective adoptive parents’ file to the National Committee for Adoption.

The Committee in turn forwards the file to the Education Directorate in the district where a prospective adoptable child resides. The local Inspector for the Protection of Children’s Rights in the district, together with a physician and the director of the orphanage, examines the file and matches the family with an eligible child.

The prospective adoptive parents are then provided with complete, official information about the child, including health and family background. The Moldovan representative sends the prospective parents this information including photographs or a video of the child. The representative will also send answers from the Moldovan authorities to all additional questions the prospective adoptive parents may have about the child.

The prospective parents have the option to refuse a prospective adoptive child. If they do so, they must inform the Moldovan authorities in writing of their decision. If the prospective parents agree to accept the child, they send a letter to the Committee through their agency’s representative, acknowledging that they are aware of any specific health or other problems, and accept the child. The orphanage receives a copy of the letter from the Committee.

The district’s Directorate of Education must then approve the prospective adoption and provide full information on the adoptive parents and the adoptive child to the Committee. If approved, the Directorate of Education will forward a Notice of Approval of Adoption to the Committee.

The Committee will then decide whether to approve the adoption. Although prospective adoptive parents do not need to travel to Mold-ova to meet the prospective adoptive child at the time of the acceptance of the match, both parents must appear in court in Moldova to finalize the adoption.

The approved adoption file then proceeds to the court system through the district’s Inspector for the Protection of Children’s Rights. Once the adoptive parents satisfy the Moldovan adoption requirements, a judge must grant a final adoption.

The Moldovan government will then allow the child to leave Moldova. The adoptive parents can change the child’s name and request a new birth certificate (listing their names as parents) at the Moldovan Civil Registry office. Afterwards, the adoptive parents need to apply for a passport for the child at the Moldovan passport office.

Documentary Requirements: The adoption application should contain:

  • name; year, month and day of birth; residence of the prospective adoptive parent(s);
  • name; year, month and day of birth; residence of the child to be adopted,
  • information about the biological parents and siblings of the prospective adoptive child;
  • request to change name, place of birth, and date of birth (in the case of adoption of a child who is 1 year of age or over), and register the adoptive parents as the birth parents on the child’s birth certificate;

The following documents shall be attached to the application:

  • A copy of the adoptive parent’s birth certificate, if the adoption is solicited by an unmarried person;
  • A copy of the marriage certificate of the adoptive parents if the adoption is solicited by a married couple;
  • The written consent of the spouse or, proof of the legal termination of any prior marriage (such as a final decree of divorce), if applicable;
  • Doctor’s certificate of the prospective adoptive parents;
  • Employment certificate, including the occupation, years of service, and income;
  • An authenticated copy of the prospective adoptive parent’s Deed of Sale or lease agreement;
  • The court presiding over the adoption may require additional documents, including criminal records, if applicable; and
  • Approval by the prospective adoptive parents’ government and permission for the adopted child to reside in their new country of residence. An approved Form The I-600A will meet this requirement.

Embassy in the United States:
2101 S. Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 667-1130/1/7
Fax: (202) 667-1204
E-mail: [email protected]

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication,

International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel. state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy in Moldova:
103, A. Mateevici Street
Chisinau, Moldova MD 2009
Tel: (373 22) 408 300
Fax: (373 22) 226 361
E-mail: [email protected]
Internet: moldova.usembassy.gov

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Moldova may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau. Questions about applying for an immigrant visa should be directed to the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, and toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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Moldova

Moldova

Type of Government

Moldova is a parliamentary republic with a unicameral (one-house) parliament that is elected by the people. The country also has a president, who is elected by the parliament; a prime minister, who is nominated by the president and confirmed by the parliament; and a cabinet, which is nominated by the prime minister and confirmed by the parliament.

Background

The history of Moldova is closely tied to the history of its western neighbor, Romania. From early in the first century AD, when troops from the Roman Empire occupied what is today Romania and Moldova, until 1947, when Moldova became a part of the Soviet Union, Moldova was almost always considered a part of the Romanian lands. In the twenty-first century, Moldova’s approximately four million people are still primarily ethnic Romanians, and they still speak the Romanian language.

Moldova was originally part of Moldavia, one of two Romanian states that broke away from the Hungarian Empire in 1360. However, Moldavia was a small, poor, isolated state that was unable to maintain its independence for long. Late in the fourteenth century the Ottoman Empire, centered in what is modern-day Turkey, began expanding into Europe, and by the late fifteenth century the Ottomans had turned their sights on Moldavia. Stephan IV (1435–1504; known as Stephan the Great) ruled Moldavia at that time, and under his leadership the Moldavians fought fiercely to protect their country. The Ottomans were unable to conquer Moldavia in Stephan’s lifetime, but not long after Stephen died, his son, Bogdan III the One-Eyed, was forced to admit defeat and sign an agreement making Moldavia a vassal (subject) of the Ottoman Empire.

In the early eighteenth century Moldavia found itself in an unenviable position, situated between two great empires: the Ottomans to the south and the Russians to the northeast. Moldavia was still subject to the Ottomans, but the strengthening Russian Empire saw the possibility of prying Moldavia away from a weakening Ottoman Empire. The Russians invaded Moldavia for the first time in 1711, returning several more times in the next century. Finally, in 1812, Russia permanently occupied the part of Moldavia then known as Bessarabia (the eastern half of the country, which lay east of the Prut River) and incorporated it into Russia. Bessarabia, along with neighboring territory known as Transnistria, later became known as Moldova.

Romania gained Bessarabia back in 1918, during World War I, but this reunion of ethnic Romanians proved short-lived. The Soviet Union occupied Bessarabia in June 1940, near the beginning of World War II, and renamed it the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. Romania, which was allied with Nazi Germany, briefly managed to win Moldova back, but by 1944 the Romanians had been driven out and Moldova was left in the Soviets’ hands.

Moldova’s ethnic Romanian population was oppressed under Soviet rule. The Soviet Union forced Moldovans to write their language in the Cyrillic alphabet (which is used for Russian and other Slavic languages), rather than the Latin alphabet. It encouraged ethnic Russians to move into the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR), and then gave those Russians leadership positions over the ethnic Romanians. Moldovans also faced the typical hardships of life under Communist rule. One such hardship was collectivization, in which family farms were taken by the state and turned into large collective farms, with farmers then forced to work for the state. Moldovans also had to worry about being deported to another part of the Soviet Union if they spoke out against collectivization or Soviet rule; tens of thousands of Moldovans were sent to Kazakhstan under this policy.

In the late 1980s the Soviet Union began relaxing some of the restrictions on free speech within its republics. In the Moldovan SSR the people took advantage of this freedom to speak out in favor of greater rights for ethnic Romanians. In 1989 the Moldovan Popular Front was formed to advance this cause, and in 1990 the Popular Front ran in the first democratic elections for the lower house of the Soviet legislature. The Popular Front won. On August 27, 1991, Moldova declared its independence from the collapsing Soviet Union.

Government Structure

Moldova adopted its first post-Communist constitution in 1994 and then passed several amendments changing the structure of the government in 2000. The 1994 constitution created a unicameral parliament with 101 seats. Representatives are elected by the entire country (not a single state or district, as in the U.S. Congress) and are elected via a party-list system. In this type of election, voters vote for parties rather than individual candidates, and seats in the parliament are distributed to the parties based on the percentage of the vote that they received. Before the election each party creates a ranked list of candidates. After the votes are counted and the seats are assigned to the parties, the first candidate on the list receives the party’s first seat in the parliament, the second receives the second seat, and on down the list until all of the party’s seats are filled.

Under Moldova’s 1994 constitution the president was elected directly by the people, but the 2000 amendments scrapped that system. The president is now elected by the parliament. The president then nominates a prime minister, who assembles a cabinet. The parliament must vote to accept both the prime minister and his or her cabinet before they can take office.

In Moldova the regular court system is separate from the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court is responsible for determining if laws contradict the Moldovan constitution and for ensuring that the other branches of the Moldovan government do not take any actions that violate the constitution. The six judges of this court are appointed to six-year terms and are politically independent. The regular judicial system, which is responsible for hearing criminal and civil cases, is capped by a Supreme Court that is the highest appeals court in the country.

Local governments have had little independent power in Moldova since 2002. That year the recently elected Communist-led government passed a law eliminating the existing ten local government districts and replacing them with thirty-two smaller districts, called raions , that are largely controlled by the national government. Mayors and local councils are still elected by the people, but they are dependent upon funding from the national government. This method of funding makes it very difficult for local governments to carry out policies of which the national government disapproves.

Political Parties and Factions

The three major political parties in Moldova are the Communists, the Democratic Moldova Bloc, and the Popular Christian Democratic Party. The Communists, who have controlled the government since 2001, are Communist in name only: the party favors closer ties with the European Union and the United States, and it has taken some small steps to free the Moldovan economy. The Democratic Moldova Bloc is a centrist party that wants to improve Moldova’s relationships with both Russia and Europe. The Popular Christian Democratic Party is a right-wing party that wants Moldova to strengthen its ties to Romania.

Major Events

When the Soviets created the Moldavian SSR, they combined two territories with very different populations—Bessarabia, populated by ethnic Romanians, and Transnistria, a small strip of land that had formerly belonged to Ukraine and that was populated by ethnic Ukrainians. As the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, the Ukrainian and Russian residents of the Moldavian SSR feared that they would soon find themselves an oppressed minority in an ethnic Romanian-dominated country. In 1990 they formed their own breakaway country in Transnistria.

The Moldovans and Transnistrians fought a brief civil war in 1992 when Moldova tried to reassert its control over the area. The fighting stopped when the Russian army intervened to drive the Moldovans out of Transnistria. Russia calls these troops—who remain in Transnistria as of 2007—peacekeepers, but Moldovans consider them an occupying force and a serious threat. Transnistria is still technically considered to be a part of Moldova, but in reality the Moldovan government has no control over the area. There have been periodic negotiations between Moldova and Transnistria over the years in an attempt to reach an agreement on the status of Transnistria, but no settlement has yet been reached.

Twenty-First Century

Moldova is still the poorest country in Europe, with a high unemployment rate and a large number of its citizens living and working outside the country. At the beginning of the twenty-first century much of the population of Moldova survived as subsistence farmers, living almost entirely on the food that they grew for themselves and earning little or no cash income. Voters felt frustrated over the collapse in Moldova’s economy between 1991 and 2001: During that period the average Moldovan went from earning around $2,000 per year to around $200 per year. This frustration helped to propel the Moldovan Communist Party to a series of electoral victories, as people longed for a return to the relative prosperity and steady paychecks of Moldova’s Communist past. The Communists held 70 percent of the seats in the parliament from 2001 to 2005 and won fifty-six seats in the 2005 elections. However, the twenty-first-century Communist party has evolved into something very different from its twentieth-century ancestor. The Communists came to power in 2001 calling for closer ties with Russia, but they have since become suspicious of Russian interference in Moldova and have worked to develop friendlier relations with the European Union and the United States, both of which are attempting to help Moldova economically and politically.

Fedor, Helen, ed. Moldova: A Country Study . Washington, DC: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1995.

Freedom House. “Country Report: Moldova.” (accessed August 8, 2007).

King, Charles The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture . Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 2000.

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Moldova

Moldova

  • Area: 13,067 sq mi (33,843 sq km) / World Rank: 138
  • Location: Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, in eastern Europe, east of Romania, south and west of Ukraine.
  • Coordinates: 47°00′N, 29°00′E
  • Borders: 864 mi (1,389 km) / Romania, 280 mi (450 km); Ukraine, 583 mi (939 km)
  • Coastline: None
  • Territorial Seas: None
  • Highest Point: Mount Balănesti, 1,410 ft (430 m)
  • Lowest Point: Dniester River, 6.6 ft (2 m)
  • Longest Distances: 90 mi (150 km) E–W; 210 mi (340 km) N-S
  • Longest River: Dniester, 870 mi (1400 km)
  • Natural Hazards: Landslides
  • Population: 4,431,570 (July 2001 est.) / World Rank: 115
  • Capital City: Chisinău, in the center of the country
  • Largest City: Chisinău, 765,000 (2000 estimate)

OVERVIEW

Moldova is a completely landlocked country of about 13,000 sq mi (33,700 sg km), after Armenia the second smallest republic of the former U.S.S.R. It is located in southeastern Europe, east of Romania and north, west, and northeast of Ukraine. The entire border with Romania lies along the Prut River in the west; on the east, the Dniester (Nistru) River follows some of the northern border with Ukraine but flows mostly within the nation's eastern region. Moldova's capital and largest city, Chisinău, is situated nearly in the center of the country.

The Moldovan terrain is mostly a hilly plain cut by many deep river and stream valleys. In general the terrain slopes gradually south toward the Black Sea, although Moldova is separated from the sea by a narrow arm of Ukraine. Its average elevation is only 482 ft (147 m) above sea level.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS

Moldova's hills are more accurately described as rolling, hilly plains that rise in elevation to the north as they approach the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. The hill country is cut by deep ravines and gullies from the country's many rivers and streams. The highest terrain are the Codri Hills of west-central Moldova, where Mount Balănesti rises to 1,409 ft (430 m).

Most of Moldova lies on deep layers of sedimentary rock. In the higher elevations of the north, near the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, crystalline igneous outcroppings can be found.

INLAND WATERWAYS

Rivers

Moldova has more than 3,000 rivers and streams, but only eight are more than 60 mi (100 km) long. The two largest rivers are the Dniester (called the Nistru in Moldova) and the Prut, which both originate in the Carpathian Mountains north of Moldova in Ukraine. The longer Nistru flows south through eastern Moldova. It forms a short section of the Moldova/Ukraine border in the northeast, flows into Moldova, then borders Ukraine again in the southeast. It finally reenters Ukraine in the south shortly before emptying into the Black Sea. Its width ranges on average from 500 to 750 ft (152 to 229 m), with a maximum of 1,400 ft (427 m). The Dniester can be navigated through most of its length in Moldova, and only freezes over in severe winters.

The second longest river is the Prut, a major tributary of the Danube River. The Prut River forms the entire border of Moldova and Romania, with Lake Stânca-Costesti part of its course, before flowing south into the Danube. The Danube then goes eastward until it empties into the Black Sea. Like the Nistru, the Prut originates in the Carpathian Mountains in southwestern Ukraine; it flows a total distance of 564 mi (909 km). It is navigable well into Moldova, about 200 mi (320 km). Other smaller Moldovan rivers include the Ialpug, the Bâc, and the Răut.

Wetlands

Saline marshes can be found along the lower reaches of the Prut and other river valleys of southern Moldova.

THE COAST, ISLANDS, AND THE OCEAN

Moldova is narrowly separated fom the Black Sea by Ukraine, and is landlocked.

CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Temperature

The Moldovan climate is continental, with conditions kept somewhat moderate by the influence of the Black Sea. Winters are generally dry and mild, with average daily temperatures in January ranging from 23° to 27° F (-5° to -3° C). The long summers are warm; average daily temperatures in July are over 68° F (20° C), and daily highs may even reach 104° F (40° C).

Rainfall

Precipitation in Moldova is typically light, and sometimes irregular, even characterized by dry spells. Rainfall is least in the south, on average 14 in (35 cm) per year. In higher elevations it can exceed 20 in (60 cm). Early summer and October are the rainy seasons, with heavy showers and thunderstorms common, often causing erosion and river silting. Overall Moldova's climate is excellent for agriculture, grape growing in particular.

Grasslands

Southern Moldova lies in an area called the Bugeac Steppe. However, in Moldova essentially the entire steppe zone has been cultivated.

Forests

About 13 percent of Moldova is forest and woodland, with the central hill country the most densely forested. Oak and hornbeam trees predominate, but linden, maple, beech, and wild fruit trees are also found. Many wildlife species inhabit these forests, including roe and spotted deer. Badgers, martens, ermines, and polecats are abundant,

Population Centers – Moldova
(1992 POPULATION ESTIMATES)
Name Population
Chisinău (Kishinev, capital) 667,100
Tiraspol 186,200
Balti (Beltsy) 159,000
Bendery 132,700
SOURCE : "Population of Capital Cities and Cities of 100,000 and More Inhabitants." United Nations Statistics Division.

as are wild boars, foxes, and hares. Bird species include larks, jays, blackbirds, and migratory geese.

HUMAN POPULATION

Moldova's population is 4,431,570 (July 2001 estimate), for an average density of 343 persons per sq mi (132 per sq km). Most of the inhabitants are concentrated in north and central Moldova. The country had the highest population density of any republic in the Soviet period; however, it was one of the least urbanized. About 53 percent of the people live in cities. Most country dwellers live in large villages.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Moldova has an abundant quantity of the sedimentary rock materials used for making high-quality cement and other construction products: sand, gravel, gypsum, lignite, phosphorite, and limestone. More than three-quarters of the country is covered in an exceptionally fertile type of soil called chernozem, which is ideal for agriculture. Some 14 percent of the nation's arable land is used for permanent crops and 13 percent for pastures; approximately 3,110 sq km are irrigated.

FURTHER READINGS

Moldova. Minneapolis: Lerner, 1993.

Moldova: The Republic of Moldova. Chisinău, Moldova: Moldpres, 1995.

Verona, Sergiu. "Moldova Republic: Basic Facts." CRS Report for Congress. (92-182F.) Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, 1992.

The Republic of Moldova Site. http://www.moldova.org/ (accessed June 18, 2002).

GEO-FACT

Like other countries now independent of the former U.S.S.R., Moldova strug gles to recover from Soviet ecological mismanagement. The country suffered extreme degradation in the name of industrial and agricultural output. Pesticides were used with utter disregard, polluting the topsoil almost beyond its ability to recover. Furthermore, agricultural methods that leveled forests to make way for vineyards compounded Moldova's erosion problems. Industrial emission controls were practically unknown.

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Moldova

Moldova

At a Glance

Official Name: Republic of Moldova

Continent: Europe

Area: 13,000 square miles (33,700 sq km)

Population: 4, 431,570

Capital City: Chisinau

Largest City: Chisinau (676,700)

Unit of Money: Moldovan leu

Major Languages: Moldovan (official), Russian

Literacy: 97%

Land Use: 53% arable, 14% permanent crops, 13% pastures, 13% woodlands, 7% other

Natural Resources: Lignite, phosphorites, gypsum, copper

Government: Republic

Defense: 13 million

The Place

Moldova is a landlocked country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Romania on the west and Ukraine on the north, east, and south. To the west of Moldova are the Carpathian Mountains.

Moldova is hilly with its highest elevations in the forests of the central area. Moldova's highest peak is Mount Balaneshty at 1,407 feet (429 m). Northern and eastern Moldova have grassy uplands and plains. Most of southern Moldova is a large plain.

Of Moldova's 3,000 rivers, 8 are longer than 60 miles (95 km). Its main rivers are the Dnestr, in the east and the Prut, in west. About 75% of the country is covered by fertile soil. The most fertile area is near the Dnestr, where many farmers grow sugar beets.

Moldova has warm summers and mild winters. Temperatures average 70° F (21° C) in July and 25° F (-4° C) in January. The country averages 20 inches (50 cm) of precipitation a year.

Wild animals, such as badgers, boars, Siberian stags, and wolves are native to Moldova.

The People

About 66% of the population is ethnic Moldovan. The rest of the citizens are Russian, Ukrainian, and Bulgarian. Moldova has a population density of 341 people per square mile (130 people per square km). It has an annual population growth of 0.04%.

Most of the population speaks Moldovan, which is similar to Romanian. Almost all Moldovans are Eastern Orthodox Christians.

More than half of the people live in rural villages and most work as farmers. Agriculture is important to Moldova's economy. Grapes, wheat, and corn are the main crops. About 14% of the population works in industry. The country's main industries are food processing, which includes winemaking and agricultural machinery manufacturing.

Moldovan children must attend school from ages 6 to 18. Almost all people age 15 and older can read and write.

Medical care is free in Moldova, and life expectancy is 64 years.

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Moldova

MOLDOVA

Compiled from the February 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.


Official Name:
Republic of Moldova


PROFILE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
DEFENSE AND MILITARY ISSUES
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-MOLDOVAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 33,843 sq. km. (13,000 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Maryland.

Cities: Capital—Chisinau.

Terrain: Rolling steppe, gradual slope south to Black Sea.

Climate: Moderate winters, warm summers.

Time Zone: GMT+2


People

Nationality: Noun—Moldovan(s). Adjective—Moldovan.

Population: (1989 census) 4.28 million.

Population growth rate: -0.3% (est.).

Ethnic groups: (1989 est.) Moldovan/Romanian (65%), Ukrainian (13.8%), Russian (13%), Gagauz (3.5%), Jewish (1.5%), Bulgarian (2%), other (1.7%).

Main Religions: Eastern Orthodox (98%), Jewish, Baptist.

Languages: Romanian (official), Russian, Gagauz.

Education: Literacy—96%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—44/1,000. Life expectancy—67 years.

Work force: (2 million) Agriculture—35%; industry—20%; other—45%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Constitution: Adopted July 28, 1994.

Independence: August 27, 1991 (from Soviet Union).

Branches: Executive—President (head of state), Prime Minister (head of Government), Council of Ministers (cabinet). Legislative—unicameral Parliament. Judicial—Supreme Court.

Administrative subdivisions: 32 counties (raions), 4 municipalities, and one autonomous territorial unit.

Political parties: Communist Party, Popular Christian Democratic Party, Our Moldova Alliance, Democratic Party, and Social Liberal Party.

Suffrage: Universal at 18.


Economy

GDP: (2003 est.) $1.7 billion ($1.6 billion in 2002; $1.5 billion in 2001; $1.3 billion in 2000).

GDP real growth rate: (January-September 2003) 7.0% (7.2% in 2002; 6.1% in 2001).

Per capita GDP: (2003 est.) $460 ($448 in 2002; $422 in 2001).

Natural resources: Lignite, phosphorites, gypsum, arable land, limestone.

Agriculture: Products—vegetables, fruits, wine and spirits, grain, sugarbeets, sunflower seeds, meat, milk, tobacco.

Industry: Types—processed foods and beverages, including wine and refined sugar; processed fruit and vegetable products, including vegetable oil; dairy and meat products; tobacco items; metal processing and production of machinery; textiles and clothing, shoes; furniture.

Trade: (2002) Exports—$644 million (of which 46% go to countries outside the former Soviet Union) foodstuffs, wine, tobacco, textiles and footwear, machinery, chemicals. Major markets—Russia, Ukraine, Italy, Romania, Germany. Imports—$1,039 million (of which 61% come from countries outside the former Soviet Union) gas, oil, coal, steel, machinery and equipment, chemical products, textiles, foodstuffs, automobiles, and other consumer durables. Major suppliers—Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Germany, Italy.

Currency: Moldovan Leu (plural Lei).

Exchange rate: Lei/US$ (2003) 13.22 (end of year), 13.94 (average); (13.57 average in 2002)




HISTORY

The Republic of Moldova occupies most of what has been known as Bessarabia. Moldova's location has made it a historic passageway between Asia and southern Europe as well as the victim of frequent warfare. Greeks, Romans, Huns, and Bulgars invaded the area, which in the 13th century became part of the Mongol empire. An independent Moldovan state emerged briefly in the 14th century under celebrated leader Stefan the Great, but subsequently fell under Ottoman Turkish rule in the 16th century.


After the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12, the eastern half of Moldova (Bessarabia) between the Prut and the Dniester Rivers was ceded to Russia, while Romanian Moldova (west of the Prut) remained with the Turks. Romania, which gained independence in 1878, took control of the Russian half of Moldova in 1918. The Soviet Union never recognized the action and created an autonomous Moldavian republic on the east side of the Dniester River in 1924.


In 1940, Romania was forced to cede eastern Moldova to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), which established the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic by merging the autonomous republic east of the Dniester and the annexed Bessarabian portion. Romania sought to regain it by joining with Germany in the 1941 attack on the U.S.S.R. Moldova was ceded back to Moscow when hostilities between the U.S.S.R. and Romania ceased at the end of World War II. The present boundary between Moldova and Romania was established in 1947. Moldova remained part of the U.S.S.R. until the early 1990s; the Soviet Union was formally dissolved In December 1991.


In October 1990, Mircea Snegur was elected president of Moldova by the Parliament. A former Communist Party official, he endorsed independence from the Soviet Union and actively sought Western recognition. Moldova declared its independence from the U.S.S.R. in August 1991. However, Snegur's opposition to immediate reunification with Romania led to a split with the Moldovan Popular Front in October 1991 and to his decision to run as an independent candidate in a December 1991 presidential election. Running unopposed, he won after the Popular Front's efforts to organize a voter boycott failed.

Moldova's transition to democracy initially had been impeded by an ineffective Parliament, the lack of a new constitution, a separatist movement led by the Gagauz (Christian Turkic) minority in the south, and unrest in the Transnistria region on the left bank of the Nistru/Dniester River, where a separatist movement—assisted by uniformed Russian military forces in the region and led by supporters of the 1991 coup attempt in Moscow—declared a "Dniester republic."


In 1992, the government negotiated a cease-fire arrangement with Russian and Transnistrian officials, although tensions continue, and negotiations are ongoing. In February 1994, new legislative elections were held, and the ineffective Parliament that had been elected in 1990 to a 5-year term was replaced. A new constitution was adopted in July 1994. The conflict with the Gagauz minority was defused by the granting of local autonomy in 1994.


The February 1994 Parliamentary elections were conducted peacefully and received good ratings from international observers for their fairness. Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli was re-elected to his post in March 1994, as was Petru Lucinschi to his post as speaker of the Parliament. Authorities in Transnistria, however, refused to allow balloting there and discouraged the local population from participating. Inhabitants of the Gagauz separatist region did participate in the elections.


In the presidential elections of 1996, Parliamentary speaker Petru Lucinschi surprised the nation with an upset victory over the incumbent, Mircea Snegur, in a second round of balloting. The elections were widely judged as free and fair by international observers, a hallmark that would come to characterize future nationwide elections in Moldova as well.


Though President Lucinschi managed to institute some very important reforms—among them the successful fight for the "Pamint" land privatization program—his tenure was marked by constant legislative struggle with Moldova's Parliament. Several times, the Parliament considered votes of no confidence in the President's government, and a succession of moderate, pro-reform prime ministers were dismissed by a Parliament increasingly dominated by the Communist Party faction.




GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

In 2000, Parliament passed a decree declaring Moldova a parliamentary republic, with the presidency henceforth to be decided not by popular vote, but by parliamentary vote. However, since no single candidate was able to garner a majority of votes, Lucinschi temporarily remained president. Later that year, when Parliament failed three times to successfully elect a new president, Lucinschi exercised his right to dissolve Parliament, calling for new parliamentary elections in the hope that a new Parliament would be more open to his initiatives—and, possibly, even rescind the decree on election of the president.


Widespread popular dissatisfaction with the government and the economy, however, led to a surprise at the polls in February 2001. In elections certified by international observers as free and fair, slightly over half of Moldova's voters cast their ballots for the communists. Under the rules of Moldova's proportional representation system, the communist faction, which in the previous parliament consisted of 40 of Parliament's 101 seats, jumped to 71—a clear majority. Communist deputies were then able to elect as president Vladimir Voronin, the leader of their faction.


Voronin's tenure has been marked by up and down relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The assistance of these international financial institutions is critical because large government debts must be rescheduled. Politically, the government is committed to the reduction of poverty by allocating more resources to social safety net items such as health, education, and increasing pensions and salaries. Since election, President Voronin has proceeded with President Lucinschi's plans to privatize several important state-owned industries, and has even on occasion broken with his own party over important issues. Under President Voronin, relations with the United States remain strong.


From January to April 2002, large demonstrations took place in opposition to several controversial government proposals, including expanded use of the Russian language in schools and its designation as an official language. While the demonstrations were sometimes tense, the government did not use force, and ultimately, agreed to Council of Europe (CoE) mediation.


Local elections in May and June 2003—the first nationwide contests since the Communists came to power—did not meet the relatively high electoral standards set in previous Moldovan elections, according to international observers. While the voting itself generally met international standards, the government's behavior in the campaign period—including bias in state media, misuse of administrative resources, and the arrests of two opposition mayors—represented a step backward. The Communists won the largest share of votes, but lost in the country's highest-profile race, for mayor of Chisinau. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for early 2005.


In addition to state-sponsored media, there are several independent newspapers, radio and television stations, and news services. The independent media organizations, along with some that are affiliated with political parties, often criticize government policies. Peaceful assembly is allowed, though permits for demonstrations must be obtained; private organizations, including political parties, are required to register with the government.
Legislation passed in 1992 codified freedom of religion but required that religious groups be recognized by the government.


A 1990 Soviet law and a 1991 Parliamentary decision authorizing formation of social organizations provide for independent trade unions. The General Federation of Trade Unions succeeded the Soviet trade union system upon Moldovan independence. In late 2000, the union split. The Trade Union Confederation of Moldova (TUCM), successor to the previous federation, retained 80% of the union members in Moldova, and primarily represents agriculture and agricultural processing sector, public services, radio electronics, medicine, education, and culture. "Solidaritate" (solidarity), a new organization, includes the remaining 20% of unionized workers from industry, transport, telecommunication, construction, and social protection. The unions have tried to influence government policy in labor issues and been critical of many economic policies. Moldovan labor law, which is based on former Soviet legislation, provides for collective bargaining rights.


Transnistria

The population of the Moldovan region of Transnistria is 40% Romanian/Moldovan, 28% Ukrainian, and 23% Russian. Separatist forces maintain control of the Transnistrian region, along the Ukrainian border. Moldova has tried to meet the Russian minority's demands by offering the region rather broad cultural and political autonomy. The dispute has strained Moldova's relations with Russia. The July 1992 cease-fire agreement established a tripartite peacekeeping force comprised of Moldovan, Russian, and Transnistrian units.


Negotiations to resolve the conflict continue, and the cease-fire is still in effect. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also is trying to facilitate a negotiated settlement and has had an observer mission in place for several years. In July 2002, the OSCE, Russian, and Ukrainian mediators approved a document setting forth a blueprint for reuniting Moldova under a federal system. Over the next year and a half, the settlement talks alternated between periods of forward momentum and periods of no progress. In February 2003, the U.S. and EU imposed visa restrictions against the Transnistrian leadership. In April 2003, the Moldovan Government and the Transnistrian authorities agreed to establish a joint commission to draft a constitution for a reintegrated state, but fundamental disagreements over the division of powers remained, and a settlement proved elusive. In May 2003, Ukraine and Moldova reached an agreement under which Ukraine would no longer recognize Moldova's obsolete customs stamps, which were still being used by the Transnistrians.

In a surprise move, President Voronin decided not to sign a Russian-brokered settlement with Transnistria in November 2003. The appearance of the Russian proposal—seen by many as pro-Transnistrian—was enough to set off a brief wave of opposition protests, reminiscent of 2002 protests against the government's proposals to change language and history education in schools. The potential for continued protest over these contentious issues remains. Russia has not removed the weapons and munitions of the Organized Group of Russian Forces stationed in Transnistria, thus failing to comply with the time-table set forth in the 1999 Istanbul Accords. In 2003 Russia failed to meet its second one-year extension from the original withdrawal date of December 31, 2001.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 2/10/04


President: Voronin, Vladimir

Speaker of the Parliament: Ostapciuc, Eugenia

Prime Minister: Tarlev, Vasile

First Dep. Prime Min.: Iovv, Vasile

Dep. Prime Min.: Lupu, Marian

Dep. Prime Min.: Cristea, Valerian

Dep. Prime Min.: Todoroglo, Dmitrii

Min. of Agriculture & Food Industry: Todoroglo, Dmitrii

Min. of Cabinet: Petrache, Mihai

Min. of Culture: Madan, Veaceslav

Min. of Defense: Gaiciuc, Victor

Min. of Economy & Reform: Lupu, Marian

Min. of Education: Beniuc, Valentin

Min. of Energy: Lesanu, Ion

Min. of Environment, Construction, & Territory Dev.: Duca, Gheorghe

Min. of Finance: Greciani, Zinaida

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Stratan, Andrei

Min. of Health: Gherman, Andrei

Min. of Industry: Garstea, Mihail

Min. of Interior: Papuc, Gheorghe

Min. of Justice: Morei, Ion

Min. of Labor & Social Protection: Revenco, Valerian

Min. of Reintegration: Sova, Vasile

Min. of Transportation & Communications: Zgardan, Vasile

Dir., Intelligence & Security Service (ISS): Ursu, Ion

Prosecutor General: Balaban, Valeriy

Pres., National Bank: Talmaci, Leonid

Secretary of National Security: Plamadeala, Mihai

Ambassador to the US: Manoli, Mihai

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Grigore, Vsevolod



Moldova's embassy in the United States is at 2101 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: 202-667-1130; fax 202-667-1204).


For more information on Moldova, see the Moldova.org group's website.




ECONOMY

Moldova remains the poorest country in Europe. It is landlocked, bounded by Ukraine on the east and Romania to the west. It is the second smallest of the former Soviet republics and the most densely populated. Moldova's economy resembles those of the Central Asian republics, rather than those of the other states on the western edge of the former Soviet Union. Industry accounts for only 20% of its labor force, while agriculture's share is more than one-third.


Moldova's proximity to the Black Sea gives it a mild and sunny climate. This makes the area ideal for agriculture, which accounts for about 40% of the country's GDP. The fertile soil supports wheat, corn, barley, tobacco, sugarbeets, and soybeans. Beef and dairy cattle are raised, and beekeeping is widespread. Moldova's best-known product comes from its extensive and well-developed vineyards concentrated in the central and southern regions. In addition to world-class wine, Moldova produces liqueurs and champagne. It is also known for its sunflower seeds, plums, peaches, apples, and other fruits.


Like many other former Soviet republics, Moldova has experienced economic difficulties. Since its economy was highly dependent on the rest of the former Soviet Union for energy and raw materials, the breakdown in trade following the breakup of the Soviet Union had a serious effect, exacerbated at times by drought and civil conflict. After the Russian ruble devaluation of 1998, Moldova's economy underwent a prolonged recession, from which it started to emerge in 2000.


Moldova has made progress in economic reform since independence. The government has liberalized most prices and has phased out subsidies on most basic consumer goods. A program begun in March 1993 has privatized 80% of all housing units and nearly 2,000 small, medium, and large enterprises. Other successes include the privatization of nearly all Moldova's agricultural land from state to private ownership, as a result of an American assistance program, "Pamint" ("land"), completed in 2000. A stock market opened in June 1995.


Inflation was brought down from over 105% in 1994 to 11% in 1997. Though inflation spiked again after Russia's 1998 currency devaluation, Moldova made great strides in bringing it under control: 18.4% in 2000, 6.3% in 2001, and 4.4% in 2002. However, in 2003 inflation escalated again—due mainly to a drought-driven rise in agricultural prices—reaching 15.7%. Also in 2003, the Moldovan Leu appreciated some 4% against the U.S. dollar.


Moldova continues to make progress toward developing a viable free-market economy. The country recorded its fourth consecutive year of positive GDP growth in 2003, with year-end real GDP growth of 6%. This growth is impressive considering that, prior to 2000, Moldova had recorded only one year of positive GDP growth since independence. Equally impressive was budget execution in 2003, with a budget surplus of about Moldovan Leu 300 million, or $21.5 million.


Privatization results in 2003 were not significant: several smaller companies and two wineries were privatized in 2003, but the government was not able to privatize several larger state enterprises, notably Moldtelecom and two electricity distribution companies. Sporadic and ineffective enforcement of the law, combined with economic and political uncertainty, continues to discourage inflows of foreign direct investment.

Imports increased more rapidly than exports during the first nine months of 2003; Moldova's terms of trade worsened, as higher-priced energy imports outpaced the value of Moldova's main exports—agricultural and agro-processing goods.


During 2002, Moldova rescheduled an outstanding Eurobond, in the amount of $39.6 million, to avoid a potential default. Debt servicing represented 32.5% of the budget in 2003. Moldova informed its bilateral creditors in mid-2003 that it would no longer service its debts. The 2004 budget does provide funds for bilateral debt service. Despite difficult negotiations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank resumed lending to Moldova in July 2002, then suspended lending again in July 2003.




DEFENSE AND MILITARY ISSUES

Moldova has accepted all relevant arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union. On October 30, 1992, Moldova ratified the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment and provides for the destruction of weapons in excess of those limits. It acceded to the provisions of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in October 1994 in Washington, DC. It does not have nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Moldova joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Partnership for Peace on March 16, 1994. Moldova joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS—a group of 12 former Soviet republics) in 1991. Due to Moldova's constitutional neutrality, it is not a participant in the CIS Collective Security Agreement.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Moldova's Parliament approved the country's membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States and a CIS charter on economic union in April 1994.


In 1995, the country became the first former Soviet republic admitted to the Council of Europe. In addition to its membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace, Moldova also belongs to the United Nations, the OSCE, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Moldova is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).


In 1998, Moldova contributed to the founding of GUAM, a regional cooperative agreement made up of Georgia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan, in addition to Moldova. In 1999, Uzbekistan also joined the group, renamed GUUAM. Although the agreement initially included a declaration of mutual defense, Moldova has since declared its disinterest in participating in any GUUAM-based mutual defense initiative.


As noted, Moldova has sought a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Transnistria region, in recent years by working with Transnistria, Ukraine, Russia, and the OSCE to draft a plan for reunification of the country on a federal basis.


In the atmosphere of heightened international sensitivity to terrorism following the events of September 11, 2001, Moldova has been a supporter of American efforts to increase international cooperation in combating terrorism. Moldova sent a contingent of deminers and peacekeepers to participate in post-conflict humanitarian assistance in Iraq.




U.S.-MOLDOVAN RELATIONS

The dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991 brought an end to the Cold War and created the opportunity to build bilateral relations with the 15 new states that had made up the former U.S.S.R., as they began political and economic transformation. The United States recognized the independence of Moldova on December 25, 1991 and opened an Embassy in its capital, Chisinau, in March 1992. The current U.S. Ambassador to Moldova, Heather M. Hodges, arrived at post in October 2003.


A trade agreement providing reciprocal most-favored-nation tariff treatment became effective in July 1992. An Overseas Private Investment Corporation agreement, which encourages U.S. private investment by providing direct loans and loan guarantees, was signed in June 1992. A bilateral investment treaty was signed in April 1993. Generalized system of preferences status was granted in August 1995, and some Eximbank coverage became available in November 1995.


U.S. Assistance to Moldova

In January 1992, the U.S. initiated the Coordinating Conference on Assistance to the New Independent States (NIS) in response to the humanitarian emergencies facing those countries. The resulting Operation Provide Hope provided desperately needed food, fuel, medicine, and shelter. From 1992 through September 1995, total U.S. assistance to Moldova included about $59 million in humanitarian shipments; $104 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) food assistance, including about 80,000 metric tons of food aid, valued at $20 million, in FY 1994-95; and $61 million in technical assistance.


By January 1996, the total in humanitarian medical supplies, food, and clothing provided by the U.S. to Moldova had risen to about $61 million. Initiatives included the 1993 shipment of Department of Defense excess medical supplies, the 1994 donation of a military hospital to Moldova, and the 1995 provision of U.S. equipment that allowed for mass immunization of the Moldovan population against diphtheria. The U.S. Embassy in Chisinau has continued its coordination of assistance by providing heating assistance to many Moldovan institutions during winter.

In the mid-1990s, the focus of U.S. aid shifted to technical assistance in support of Moldova's transition to a market economy and democratic society. The establishment of a Western NIS Enterprise Fund was announced by President Clinton in January 1994, to provide investment capital to privatizing firms in Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus. The Enterprise Fund is the capstone of focusing assistance efforts on creating the institutions necessary to support market economies. The Fund's Chisinau office opened in October 1995 and, as of 2003, has committed investment capital of over $14 million to companies in Moldova.


Training and technical assistance programs have been provided in law school curriculum reform, rule of law, law enforcement, assessment of the draft Moldovan constitution, municipal organization and staffing, political parties and elections, independent media, pluralism, combating trafficking in persons, protection of minority rights, defense reform, and diplomacy and foreign policy. Educational exchanges play an important role in these areas. Resident advisers have worked with the executive and legislative branches of the Moldovan Government. Peace Corps volunteers have been working in Moldova since 1993, with a focus on teaching English, advising small businesses, health, and non-governmental organization (NGO) development.


In FY 2003, the U.S. Government provided over $40 million in assistance to Moldova, including $29.82 million in Freedom Support Act (FSA) assistance. During FY 2003, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided 23,000 metric tons of food commodities to Moldova worth $14 million.


Agricultural post-land-privatization activities were the main foci of FY 2003 U.S. assistance. Law enforcement, anti-trafficking, border control, and non-proliferation were also emphasized in FY 2003. A phase-out of energy sector activities began in FY 2003 as a result of the failure of the Government of Moldova to maintain the momentum for reform in that sector. The Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program assisted Moldovan Customs with border control projects and worked closely with the Moldovan Department of Civil Defense on continuing efforts to create a "first response unit" for weapons of mass destruction. Military-to-military cooperation remained strong based on Moldovan participation in peacekeeping operations in a number of countries, Partnership for Peace (PFP) exercises, International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs, and Bilateral Affairs Operations.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Chisinau (E), Strada Alexei Mateevici, No. 103, 2009, Tel [373] (2) 233-772, after-hours Tel 237-345, Fax 233-044. Tie lines:ADM 8-548-0123; POL/ECO 8-548-0103; PAO 8-548-0101; AID 8-548-0163; DAO 8-548-0104; AMB 8-548-0174.

AMB: Pamela Hyde Smith
AMB OMS: Anita E. Parker
DCM: Patricia Nelson-Douvelis
MGT: Charles Eaton
ECO: Phil Nelson
POL: Alan Purcell
GSO: Kristen Heslink-Purcell
CON: Harvey Wechsler
IPO: Randal Meyers
PAO: Aleisha Woodward
AID: John Starnes
DAO: LTC Brendan McAloon
RSO: Greg Sherman
RMO: Dr. Ernest Davis (res. Moscow)
FAA: Holly Higgins (res. Sofia)
DEA: Kurt Coront (res. Vienna)



Last Modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2003


TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
August 6, 2002


Country Description: Moldova has been an independent nation since 1991. The capital, Chisinau, offers adequate hotels and restaurants, but tourist facilities in other parts of the country are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available. Moldova is a democracy with a freely elected government.


Entry Requirements: Visas are required of American citizens traveling to (or transiting) Moldova. All visas must be obtained in advance of arrival from a Moldovan embassy or consulate. Only those U.S. citizens who can provide evidence that they reside in a country in which Moldova has no embassy or consulate are permitted to obtain a tourist/business visa at the Chisinau airport. No invitation is necessary. Any person applying for a visa for a stay of more than three months must present a certificate showing that the individual is HIV negative. Only tests performed at designated clinics in Moldova are accepted. For more information on entry requirements, please contact the Moldovan Embassy, 2101 S. Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone: (202) 667-1130, (202) 667-1131, or (202) 667-1137, fax: (202) 667-120 4, e-mail: [email protected]


IMPORTANT NOTES: All foreign citizens staying in Moldova for three days or longer are required to register with local authorities at the Office of Visas and Registration. The place of registration (usually, a district police station) depends on where a visitor is staying in Moldova. Most hotels will register guests automatically. The U.S. Embassy encourages U.S. citizens to ask about registration when checking into a hotel. U.S. citizens not staying in a hotel are responsible for registering with authorities. To find out exactly where to register, a U.S. citizen may call the central Office for Visas and Registration at (373) (2) 21-30-78, and should be prepared to give the address of the residence in Moldova. Under Moldovan law, those who fail to register with authorities may be required to appear in court and pay a fine. For more information on registering with Moldovan authorities, U.S. citizens are encouraged to call the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau at telephone (373) (2) 40-83-00.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.


Safety /Security: A separatist regime controls a narrow strip of land in the Transnistria region of eastern Moldova. The United States and other countries do not recognize this regime. Since no formal diplomatic relations exist between the United States and local authorities there, the provision of consular assistance to American citizens cannot be ensured. Travelers should exercise caution in visiting or transiting the area. Travelers should be aware that there are numerous road checkpoints in the Transnistria region.


Crime Information: Moldova's economic difficulties in recent years, as well as increased organized criminal activity and more frequent travel by foreigners to Moldova, contribute to the risk to visitors of street crime and other crime, potentially involving violence. While this risk is no greater than in most cities in the United States, many Americans have reported theft of money and small valuables from hotel rooms and local apartments. Cases of breaking and entering into homes and offices are not uncommon. It is wise for travelers to exercise the same precautions with regard to personal safety and protection of valuables in Chisinau that they would in any major U.S. city.

Train and bus service are below Western standards, and some U.S. citizens have been victims of crime such as thefts, while traveling on international trains to and from Moldova.


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds can be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and find an attorney if needed.


U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/index.html, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical care in Moldova is limited, and there are severe shortages of basic medical supplies. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities. The U.S. Embassy maintains lists of such facilities and English-speaking doctors. Rabies vaccinations may be useful because casual exposure to stray dogs is common throughout Chisinau. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the Hepatitis A or IG, and B series for certain travelers. The CDC also recommends typhoid vaccinations for travelers to Moldova. Please consult your physician about immunizations.


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.


Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.


Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via their Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Moldova is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor


Moldova's highway infrastructure consists mainly of two-lane roads, which are unevenly maintained and unlighted. Caution should be taken to prevent collisions with agricultural vehicles. Travel before dawn and after dusk should be avoided if possible. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution to avoid accidents, which are commonplace. Many accidents involve drunk drivers.


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.


Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial service by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the United States and Moldova, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Moldova's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States. at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.

Customs Regulations: Moldovan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Moldova of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, and foreign currency. Travelers are advised to register any foreign currency brought into Moldova with customs authorities upon entering the country. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Moldova in Washington, D.C. for specific information regarding customs requirements.


Moldovan customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, or send an e-mail to [email protected], or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Moldova's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Moldova are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.


Special Circumstances: Outside of Chisinau, travelers may have difficulty finding public telephones and receiving and making international and local calls. Losses have been reported from international letter and package mail, both of which are subject to a customs inspection before delivery. "Express" mailing services such as DHL and Federal Express are available in Chisinau, although prices are expensive in most cases, and shipments arrive from (or reach) the United States in no less than five business days.


Moldova is generally a cash-only economy. Traveler's checks and credit cards are accepted only at a few select locations in Chisinau, and some travelers have reported incidents of unauthorized expenditures made via their credit cards during or following their use of the cards in Moldova.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone 1-888-407-4747.


NOTE: Due to changes in Moldovan law, it is not currently possible for U.S. citizens to adopt in Moldova, nor is it possible to predict when this situation might change. Please check the Website noted above for updated information.

Registration/Embassy and Consulate Location: Americans living in or visiting Moldova are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau and obtain updated information on travel and security within Moldova. The U.S. Embassy is located in Chisinau, Moldova, Strada Alexei Mateevici 103; telephone (373) (2) 23-37-72, after-hours telephone (373) (2) 23-73-45..

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Moldova

Moldova

POPULATION 4,434,547
ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN 83.8 percent
OTHER CHRISTIAN 4.2 percent
JEWISH 0.8 percent
OTHER 1.0 percent
NONRELIGIOUS 10.2 percent

Country Overview

INTRODUCTION

The Republic of Moldova, with an area of only a little over 13,000 square miles, lies between Ukraine and Romania in eastern Europe. The dominance of Orthodox Christianity in Moldova and in Romania is unique in that it exists within a Latin culture. Both Moldavians and Romanians are descended from the Vlachs, and the Moldavian and Romanian languages trace their origins to the Roman soldiers who occupied Dacia following Trajan's conquest in 106 c.e.

Christianity spread along the western shore of the Black Sea in the third century, but its history during the millennium following the withdrawal of the Roman administration in 271 is obscure. By the fourteenth century, however, Moldavian ethnic identity was identified with Orthodox Christianity and oriented toward Constantinople. The Orthodox Church in Moldova was originally influenced by the Romanian Orthodox Church, but in the nineteenth century it was incorporated into the Russian Orthodox Church. The question of the orientation of the church, whether toward Romania or Russia, surfaced again in the 1990s.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

Moldova is a secular state, and the constitution provides for freedom of religion. The Law on Religions of 1992, however, inhibits the activities of religious groups not registered with the state. Such groups cannot buy land, acquire construction permits for churches, or obtain space in public cemeteries.

Although there is no state religion, the Moldavian Orthodox Church, by far the largest religious organization in the country, receives special treatment. In the separatist region of Transdniester, local authorities endorse privileged relations with the Orthodox Church, while a number of minority religious groups, for example, Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Methodists, have been denied registration and even subjected to official harassment.

Major Religion

MOLDAVIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH

DATE OF ORIGIN Before 1350 c.e.
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS 3.7 million

HISTORY

By the mid-fourteenth century, at the time of the formation of the principality of Moldova between the Danube and Dniester rivers, Orthodox Christianity had become the dominant religion. Moldova experienced a short period of expansion and prosperity under the prince (gospodar) Stephen the Great (1435–1504). The best known of the country's rulers, Stephen was canonized by the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1992 and is recognized as the patron saint of Moldova. In the sixteenth century Moldova was overrun by the Ottoman Empire and turned into a vassal state. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Russian Empire annexed Moldova from Turkey, and most of the Islamic Turkish residents were expelled.

After World War I, Moldova was contested between the Soviet Union and Romania. The land west of the Dniester, known as Bessarabia, became part of Romania, while that to the east of the Dniester, known as Transdniester, became part of the Soviet Union. In 1940 the Soviets annexed Bessarabia and in 1944 transformed the whole region into the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, with the approximate borders of present-day Moldova. During the Soviet era, however, Moldova was less affected by the atheistic state policy than were the other republics, resulting in the preservation of its religious traditions.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moldova became an independent state. The regions of Bessarabia and Transdniester had experienced different levels of Russification during the Soviet years, and these circumstances, combined with the pro-Romanian orientation of Moldova's first independent government, led to the secession of Transdniester. After bloody conflict in 1992, the Transdniestrian Moldavian Republic, with a territory of barely 1,600 square miles and a population of 750,000, became an unrecognized but a de facto independent state.

Also in 1992 a number of patriotically motivated priests broke away from the Moldavian Orthodox Church, which remained a part of the Russian Orthodox Church, and formed the Bessarabian Orthodox Church. This group regards itself as the successor to the pre-World War II Romanian Orthodox Church in Bessarabia and is subordinated to the Romanian church. The Bessarabian church is much smaller (fewer than 100 parishes) than the Moldavian church (more than 1,100 parishes), but its foundation has raised serious political and religious questions as to whether Orthodox Christianity in independent Moldova should be oriented toward Romania or Russia.

EARLY AND MODERN LEADERS

The church in Moldova has generally not produced eminent historical leaders, but Orthodox self-consciousness and Moldavian national identity have been inseparably entwined for centuries. This link played an important role during the period of oppression under the Ottoman Empire, and it was the alliance between Orthodox bishops and noble landowners that served as the ideological and political base for the Moldavian resistance movement in the eighteenth century. One of most important figures from this period was Dmitry Kantemir (1673–1723), a ruler of Moldova (1710–11) who was also known as a prominent historian.

Metropolitan Vladimir (Kantarian) became the head of the Moldavian Orthodox Church in 1992. Under his leadership the church has obtained an autonomous status within the Russian Orthodox Church. His name has also become associated with the restitution of church property confiscated under the Soviet regime and with the reestablishment of hundreds of Orthodox parishes.

MAJOR THEOLOGIANS AND AUTHORS

The Orthodox Church in Moldova has always been on the periphery of two influential national Orthodox churches, those of Russia and Romania. This situation and the rural character of Moldavian society—until the 1960s about 80 percent of Moldavians lived in the countryside—have resulted in a weak tradition of theological studies. Alexey Matievich, a Moldavian Orthodox priest from the beginning of the twentieth century, however, became well known for his literary works, specifically poetry. He is also the author of the national anthem.

HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND HOLY PLACES

As in other Orthodox countries, the primary place of worship in Moldova is a local parish church that is generally dedicated to a particular saint or to a specific event from the life of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. There are some 1,400 churches in Moldova, half of which were built before the twentieth century. A group of approximately 20 wooden churches in northern Moldova is particularly distinct. These churches, which are built on headstones and have small windows, resemble rustic peasant houses.

Monasticism has always been a tradition of Orthodox Christianity in Moldova. Most monasteries are concentrated in the central part of Moldova, in the Codru forest zone. The monasteries of Varzaresti (1420), Rudi (1776), and Capriana (1429) are among the best known. There also are several ancient cave churches and monasteries dating to early Christian times. Three of these unique caves are situated on the right bank of the Dniester River near the villages of Jabca, Saharna, and Lalova.

WHAT IS SACRED?

Reverence for icons and for the relics of saints, which are displayed in churches, is traditional in Orthodox Christian churches, and Moldova is no exception. The icon of the Herboveckaya Virgin Lady, in the Herbovecky monastery, is especially well known and is believed to possess healing power.

HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Two national holidays in Moldova are religious by nature. Christmas is observed on January 7, according to the Julian church calendar, and Memorial Easter on the Monday after Easter.

In the former Soviet Union, Communist authorities encouraged the substitution of the secular holiday of New Year's Eve for the church event of Christmas. Nonetheless, many Christmas traditions, including the Christmas tree, Santa Claus, children walking from door to door to sing carols, and plugushor (a poetry reading describing all stages of agricultural work), survived in Moldova during the Soviet era.

Easter remains the most significant church event in Moldova. The Orthodox Church observes seven weeks of Lent before Easter, although only a small proportion of Moldavians adheres to this. For most people, celebrating Easter involves the preparation of traditional food (including painted eggs and special Easter cake), the bringing of the food to the church to be blessed by the priest, attendance on Saturday at a lengthy liturgy (the highlight of which is a procession with crosses and candles around the church, led by the clergy), and a great feast on Easter Sunday. On the following day, Memorial Easter, families take flowers to grave sites to remember those who have died.

MODE OF DRESS

Both in cities and in villages, Moldavians wear Western-style clothing. The only requirements associated with attendance at church services are that women must cover their heads with kerchiefs and avoid wearing trousers, while men must enter the church without a hat.

DIETARY PRACTICES

The diet of Moldavians is based on ethnic traditions, not religious prescription. There are no food or beverages forbidden by Orthodox teaching. The church calendar calls for fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, and there also are longer periods of fasting. In modern Moldova, however, only a small number of the Orthodox follow these requirements.

RITUALS

Besides the seven major sacraments (baptism, anointment with holy oil, penance, Eucharist, marriage, extreme unction, ordination to the priesthood), the principal regular ritual in any Orthodox church is the liturgy, celebrated by the clergy. The Eucharist is celebrated in a distinct way in Moldova. Before the ritual itself, the faithful touch the bowl containing the wine with their foreheads, as if making physical contact with the body of Christ.

In Moldova the Orthodox priest remains a socially important figure, present not only in the liturgy and at the sacraments but also, for example, invited to bless the construction of a well or a new home. In villages, however, official church rituals are mixed with many pre-Christian traditions. Most traditional folk celebrations, which often coincide with festival dates in the church calendar, are connected with cycles of agricultural production. These include floriile (a festival of vegetation), dragajke (of the harvest), and barbe (of the last sheaf).

Moldavian marriage rituals are particularly elaborate. The wedding itself is preceded by the folk traditions of starostija (matchmaking), logodnja (betrothal), and respunsul (the final agreement). During the wedding itself, which is performed by a priest, many special prayers are sung rather than recited. The official church ritual, however, is only a part of the numerous folk ceremonies that are celebrated over the course of several days.

RITES OF PASSAGE

The baptism of newborn children in Moldova has continued to be a major rite of passage. In Moldova baptism is performed through immersion in holy water, although in some Orthodox regions this is being replaced with sprinkling.

MEMBERSHIP

Most Moldavians have a clear religious identity, being Orthodox by birth and by social custom. The issue of formal membership in the Orthodox Church is controversial, however. According to surveys, more than 80 percent of Moldavians define themselves as Orthodox. At the same time fewer than 50 percent consider themselves religious, and only about 30 percent of believers attend services on a regular base. It has become common, therefore, to speak of "customary" Orthodoxy as opposed to active participation in the life of the church.

The Orthodox Church in Moldova gives major attention to catechization, that is, to teaching the basics of Orthodox Christian doctrine and involving people in day-to-day church life. The Orthodox Church is provided with regular weekly time on national radio and television, and there are mandatory or optional lessons on the Orthodox faith in a majority of the Moldavian state schools.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

Human rights advocacy is not a part of the agenda of the Orthodox Church, which typically holds conservative attitudes toward social issues and emphasizes its loyalty to the state authorities. Orthodox doctrine has traditionally held a tolerant attitude toward the poor, and the entrances to churches during worship are often surrounded by beggars asking for alms.

In the past, during the period of the Russian Empire, elementary schools associated with Orthodox parishes were the only educational option for lower-class children in Moldavian villages. In the cities and towns many churches ran orphanages and hospitals for the poor. The Orthodox Church in Moldova is only beginning to recover from the Communist era, when it was required to refrain from social activities.

SOCIAL ASPECTS

Orthodox morality remains conservative with regard to issues of family, marriage, and the social acceptance of sexual minorities. Present-day Moldavian society, however, is largely secular, and the social impact of conservatism within the Orthodox Church is limited.

POLITICAL IMPACT

Despite the constitutional separation of church and state, the Orthodox Church has an essential impact on the internal politics in Moldova. At the time of armed conflict between Moldova and the self-proclaimed Transdniestrian republic in 1992, Orthodox priests were also divided by politics and encouraged soldiers on both sides. The tensions between the Moldavian Orthodox Church, subordinate to the patriarchate of Moscow, and the Bessarabian Orthodox Church, linked to the patriarchate of Bucharest, are hotly debated in Parliament, with right-wing nationalists supporting the Bessarabian church. The Orthodox Church officially requires its clergy to refrain from political activities, but during elections the priests in villages play an important role as people ask them for advice in voting.

CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

Most of the Orthodox faithful in Moldova belong to the Moldavian Orthodox Church. They are divided, however, along ethnic lines, with Moldavians making up 65 percent of the country's population, Ukrainians 14 percent, Russians 13 percent, Gagauzes (Christianized people of Turkish origin) 3 percent, and Bulgarians 2 percent. In independent Moldova, under conditions of growing nationalistic sentiments, the language of worship (Church Slavonic traditional for the Russian Orthodox Church as opposed to Romanian for ethnic Moldavians) and ethnic correlation between a priest and his flock have become problems.

CULTURAL IMPACT

Orthodox Christian culture in Moldova manifests itself strongly in the painting of icons and frescoes, which provide rich decorations in churches. Domed village churches, decorated with wooden carvings, have shaped the Moldavian rural landscape for centuries. Church Slavonic, the old Slavic language that continues to be used in the Russian Orthodox Church, functioned as the literary language in Moldova until the sixteenth century. The oldest university-level school in Moldova was the Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy, established in the seventeenth century in Iasi, then the capital of the Moldavian principality, under the patronage of Petr Mohyla, the Orthodox metropolitan of Kiev.

Other Religions

The Orthodox Old Believers, an estimated 3 percent of the population, are a dissident branch of Russian Orthodox Christianity who did not accept various reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon and ratified by councils in Moscow in the 1650s and 1660s. They have lived in Moldova since the early nineteenth century and traditionally have remained in isolated rural communities. The Roman Catholic Church was established in Moldova in 1993. Most Catholics, with estimates of adherents varying from 18,000 to 48,000, are of Polish, German, and Lithuanian descent and live in the cities of Kishinev and Beltsy. The Jewish community was heavily diminished during World War II by the Holocaust and in the 1970s and 1980s by emigration. At the beginning of the 21st century there were approximately 32,000 Jews remaining in Moldova, including 20,000 in the capital of Kishinev, and 8 synagogues, compared to 370 in 1940. Two public schools are open exclusively to Jewish students and receive the same funding as other state schools in addition to financial support from the community.

Of the various Protestant churches in Moldova, Baptists are the longest established and largest denomination. Baptist missionaries from Germany arrived in Moldova in 1876, and the first Russian congregation was formed in Kishinev in 1908. Baptists, who number about 20,000 members, are especially active in charitable activities. Jehovah's Witnesses, with some 15,000 members, is the group experiencing the most dynamic growth. Its aggressive door-to-door proselytizing has caused growing public resentment, however, and Jehovah's Witnesses typically experience difficulties in relations with state authorities, especially in separatist Transdniester.

Alexei Krindatch

See Also Vol. 1: Christianity, Eastern Orthodoxy, Russian Orthodoxy

Bibliography

Barrett, David. The Encyclopedia of World Christianity. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Bauman, Martin, and J. Gordon Melton, eds. Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices. Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 2002.

Bromlej, Jury, ed. Strany i Narody: Sovetskij Sojuz—Respubliki Pribaltiki, Byelorussia, Ukraina, Moldavia. Moscow: Mysl, 1984.

Dima, Nicholas. From Moldava to Moldova: The Soviet-Romanian Territorial Dispute. East European Monographs. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.

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Moldova

MOLDOVA

Compiled from the January 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Moldova


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 33,843 sq. km. (13,000 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Maryland.

Cities: Capital—Chisinau.

Terrain: Rolling steppe, gradual slope south to Black Sea.

Climate: Moderate winters, warm summers.

People

Nationality: Noun—Moldovan(s). Adjective—Moldovan.

Population: (preliminary 2004 census) 3.36 million, excluding the estimated Transnistrian population of 580,000.

Population growth rate: −0.3% (est.).

Ethnic groups: (1989 est.) Moldovan/Romanian (65%), Ukrainian (13.8%), Russian (13%), Gagauz (3.5%), Jewish (1.5%), Bulgarian (2%), other (1.7%).

Religions: Christian Orthodox (98%), Jewish, Baptist.

Languages: Romanian (officially known as Moldovan), Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz.

Education: Literacy—96%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—44/1,000. Life expectancy—67 years.

Work force: (2 million) Agriculture—35%; industry—20%; other—45%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Constitution: Adopted July 28, 1994.

Independence: August 27, 1991 (from Soviet Union).

Branches: Executive—President (head of state), Prime Minister (head of Government), Government (cabinet). Legislative—unicameral Parliament. Judicial—Supreme Court.

Administrative subdivisions: 32 counties (raions), 4 municipalities, and one autonomous territorial unit.

Political parties: Communist Party, Popular Christian Democratic Party, The Democratic Moldova Bloc (comprised of Our Moldova Alliance, the Democratic Party and the Social Liberal Party) and the Social-Democratic Party.

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2004 est.) $2.6 billion ($2.0 billion in 2003; $1.6 billion in 2002; $1.5 billion in 2001)).

GDP real growth rate: (January-September 2004) 5.7% (6.3% in 2003; 7.2% in 2002; 6.1% in 2001).

Per capita GDP: (2004 est.) $760 ($540 in 2003: $448 in 2002; $422 in 2001).

Natural resources: Lignite, phosphates, gypsum, arable land, and limestone.

Agriculture: Products—vegetables, fruits, wine and spirits, grain, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, meat, milk, eggs, tobacco, walnuts.

Industry: Types—processed foods and beverages, including wine and refined sugar; processed fruit and vegetable products, including vegetable oil; dairy and meat products; tobacco items; metal processing and production of machinery; textiles and clothing, shoes; furniture.

Trade: (2003) Exports—$790 million (of which 46% go to countries outside the former Soviet Union) foodstuffs, wine, textiles, clothing, footwear and machinery. Major markets—Russia, Romania, Italy, Ukraine, Germany. Imports—$1,403 million (of which 58% come from countries outside the former Soviet Union) gas, oil, coal, steel, machinery and equipment, chemical products, textiles, foodstuffs, automobiles, and other consumer durables. Major suppliers—Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Italy, Romania,

Currency: Moldovan Leu (plural Lei).

Exchange rate: Lei/US$: (2004) 12.33; 12.46 (end of year); (13.94 average in 2003); (13.57 average in 2002)


PEOPLE AND HISTORY

Ethnic groups represented in Moldova include Moldovan/Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Gagauz, and Bulgarian. Romanian (officially known as Moldovan) is the official language; Russian, Ukrainian, and Gagauz also are spoken. The great majority of Moldova's population is Christian Orthodox–90% of the population nominally belongs to one of the two main Orthodox denominations. The Moldovan Orthodox Church, an autonomous diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church and loyal to the Patriarch of Moscow, has 1,194 parishes; the Bessarabian Orthodox Church, affiliated with the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate in Bucharest, has 124 parishes. In addition, followers of the Old Rite Russian Orthodox Church (Old Believers) make up approximately 3.6% of the population.

The Republic of Moldova occupies most of what has been known as Bessarabia. Moldova's location has made it a historic passageway between Asia and southern Europe, as well as the victim of frequent warfare. Greeks, Romans, Huns, and Bulgars invaded the area, which in the 13th century became part of the Mongol empire. An independent Moldovan state emerged briefly in the 14th century under celebrated leader Stefan the Great but subsequently fell under Ottoman Turkish rule in the 16th century.

After the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12, the eastern half of Moldova (Bessarabia) between the Prut and the Dniester Rivers was ceded to Russia, while Romanian Moldavia (west of the Prut) remained with the Turks. Romania, which gained independence in 1878, took control of Russian-ruled Bessarabia in 1918. The Soviet Union never recognized the action and created an autonomous Moldavian republic on the east side of the Dniester River in 1924.

In 1940, Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), which established the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic by merging the autonomous republic east of the Dniester and the annexed Bessarabian portion. Stalin also stripped the three southern counties along the Black Sea coast from Moldova and incorporated them in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Romania sought to regain Bessarabia by joining with Germany in the 1941 attack on the Soviet Union. However, Moldova was ceded back to Moscow when hostilities between the U.S.S.R. and Romania ceased at the end of World War II. The present boundary between Moldova and Romania was established in 1947.

In September 1990, the Supreme Soviet elected Mircea Snegur as President of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova. A former Communist Party official, he endorsed independence from the Soviet Union and actively sought Western recognition. On May 23, 1991, the Supreme Soviet renamed itself as the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, which subsequently declared its independence from the U.S.S.R.

In August 1991, Moldova's transition to democracy initially had been impeded by an ineffective Parliament, the lack of a new constitution, a separatist movement led by the Gagauz (Christian Turkic) minority in the south, and unrest in the Transnistria region on the left bank of the Nistru/Dniester River, where a separatist movement declared a "Transdniester Moldovan Republic" in September 1990. The Russian 14th Army intervened to stem widespread violence and support the Transnistrian regime which is led by supporters of the 1991 coup attempt in Moscow. In 1992, the government negotiated a cease-fire arrangement with Russian and Transnistrian officials, although tensions continue, and negotiations are ongoing. In February 1994, new legislative elections were held, and the ineffective Parliament that had been elected in 1990 to a 5-year term was replaced. A new constitution was adopted in July 1994. The conflict with the Gagauz minority was defused by the granting of local autonomy in 1994.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

In 2000, Parliament passed a decree making Moldova a parliamentary republic, with the president elected by parliament instead of by popular vote.

Widespread popular dissatisfaction with previous governments and economic hardship led to a surprise at the polls in February 2001. In elections certified by international observers as free and fair, slightly over half of Moldova's voters cast their ballots for the Communist Party. Under the rules of Moldova's proportional representation system, the Communist faction, which in the previous parliament consisted of 40 of Parliament's 101 seats, jumped to 71—a clear majority. The Parliament then elected the leader of the Communist faction, Vladimir Voronin, to be President. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for March 6, 2005.

Voronin's tenure has been marked by up and down relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Politically, the government is committed to the reduction of poverty by allocating more resources to social safety net items such as health, education, and increasing pensions and salaries. Since election, President Voronin has proceeded with former President Lucinschi's plans to privatize several important state-owned industries and has even on occasion broken with his own party over important issues. Under President Voronin, relations with the United States have remained strong. From January to April 2002, large demonstrations took place in opposition to several controversial government proposals, including expanded use of the Russian language in schools and its designation as an official language. While the demonstrations were sometimes tense, the government did not use force and ultimately, agreed to Council of Europe (CoE) mediation.

Local elections in May and June 2003—the first nationwide contests since the Communists came to power—did not meet the relatively high electoral standards set in previous Moldovan elections, according to international observers. While the voting itself generally met international standards, the government's behavior in the campaign period—including bias in state media, misuse of administrative resources, and the arrests of two opposition mayors—represented a step backward. The Communists won the largest share of votes, but lost in the country's highest-profile race, for mayor of Chisinau.

In addition to state-sponsored media, there are several independent newspapers, radio and television stations, and news services. The independent media organizations, along with some that are affiliated with political parties, often criticize government policies. In August 2004 Teleradio Moldova (TRM) was officially transformed from a state-owned company into a public broadcaster. However, journalists and civil society representatives, who claimed the process was nontransparent and meant to stack the new TRM staff with those favorable to the government, met this move with large protests. Peaceful assembly is allowed, though permits for demonstrations must be obtained; private organizations, including political parties, are required to register with the government. Legislation passed in 1992 codified freedom of religion but required that religious groups register with the government.

Transnistria

The population of the Moldovan region of Transnistria is approximately 40% Romanian/Moldovan, 28% Ukrainian, and 23% Russian. Separatist forces maintain control of the Transnistrian region, which lies along the Ukrainian border. Moldova has tried to meet the Russian minority's demands by offering the region rather broad cultural and political autonomy. The dispute has strained Moldova's relations with Russia. The July 1992 cease-fire agreement established a tripartite peacekeeping force comprised of Moldovan, Russian, and Transnistrian units.

Negotiations to resolve the conflict continue, and the cease-fire is still in effect. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is trying to facilitate a negotiated settlement and has had an observer mission in place for several years. In July 2002, OSCE, Russian, and Ukrainian mediators approved a document setting forth a blueprint for reuniting Moldova under a federal system. Over the next year and a half, the settlement talks alternated between periods of forward momentum and periods of no progress. In February 2003, the U.S. and EU imposed visa restrictions against the Transnistrian leadership. In April 2003, the Moldovan Government and the Transnistrian authorities agreed to establish a joint commission to draft a constitution for a reintegrated state. However, fundamental disagreements over the division of powers remained, and a settlement proved elusive.

In May 2003, Ukraine and Moldova reached an agreement under which Ukraine would no longer recognize Moldova's obsolete customs stamps, which were still being used by the Transnistrians; in reality, however, the Moldovans exercise little control over their border with Ukraine and illegal trade remains an issue in the region. Moldova has continued to call for international monitoring of the border.

In a surprise move, President Voronin decided not to sign a Russian-brokered settlement with Transnistria in November 2003. The appearance of the Russian proposal—seen by many as pro-Transnistrian—was enough to set off a brief wave of opposition protests. The potential for continued protest over these contentious issues remains. During the summer of 2004, the Transnistrian separatists forcibly closed Romanian language Latin-script schools. These actions were internationally condemned, and the OSCE Mission to Moldova mediated a solution to the crisis; however, negotiations on the larger conflict have since come to a standstill.

Russia has failed to remove weapons and munitions of the Operational Group of Russian Forces (formerly the Russian 14th Army) stationed in Transnistria, as required under the timetable set forth in the 1999 Istanbul Accords, and this process remained stalled throughout 2004.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 1/6/05

President: Vladimir VORONIN
Speaker of the Parliament: Eugenia OSTAPCIUC
Prime Minister: Vasile TARLEV
First Dep. Prime Min.: Vasile IOVV
Dep. Prime Min.: Valerian CRISTEA
Dep. Prime Min.: Marian LUPU
Dep. Prime Min.: Andrei STRATAN
Dep. Prime Min.: Dmitrii TODOROGLO
Min. of Agriculture & Food Industry: Dmitrii TODOROGLO
Min. of Cabinet: Mihai PETRACHE
Min. of Culture: Veaceslav MADAN
Min. of Defense: Valeriu PLESCA
Min. of Economy & Reform: Marian LUPU
Min. of Education: Valentin BENIUC
Min. of Energy: Ion LESANU
Min. of Environment, Construction, & Territory Development: Gheorghe DUCA
Min. of Finance: Zinaida GRECIANI
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Andrei STRATAN
Min. of Health: Andrei GHERMAN
Min. of Industry: Mihail GARSTEA
Min. of Interior: Gheorghe PAPUC
Min. of Justice: Vasile DOLGHIERU
Min. of Labor & Social Protection: Valerian REVENCO
Min. of Reintegration: Vasile SOVA
Min. of Transportation & Communications: Vasile ZGARDAN
Dir., Intelligence & Security Service (ISS): Ion URSU
Prosecutor General: Valeriy BALABAN
Pres., National Bank: Leonid TALMACI
Secretary, Supreme Security Council: Ion MOREI
Ambassador to the US: Mihai MANOLI
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Vsevolod GRIGORE

Moldova's embassy in the United States is at 2101 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: 202-667-1130; fax 202-667-1204).

More information about Moldova can be found at the official (Romanian and Russian language) Government of Moldova website at www.moldova.md. The Moldova.org site is maintained by the Moldova Foundation, a non-governmental organization, and has some useful links.


ECONOMY

Moldova remains the poorest country in Europe. It is landlocked, bounded by Ukraine on the east and Romania to the west. It is the second smallest of the former Soviet republics and the most densely populated. Industry accounts for only 20% of its labor force, while agriculture's share is more than one-third.

Moldova's proximity to the Black Sea gives it a mild and sunny climate. This makes the area ideal for agriculture and food processing, which accounts for about 40% of the country's GDP. The fertile soil supports wheat, corn, barley, tobacco, sugar beets, and soybeans. Beef and dairy cattle are raised, and beekeeping is widespread. Moldova's best-known product comes from its extensive and well-developed vineyards concentrated in the central and southern regions. In addition to world-class wine, Moldova produces liqueurs and champagne. It is also known for its sunflower seeds, walnuts, apples, and other fruits.

Like many other former Soviet republics, Moldova has experienced economic difficulties. Since its economy was highly dependent on the rest of the former Soviet Union for energy and raw materials, the breakdown in trade following the breakup of the Soviet Union had a serious effect, exacerbated at times by drought and civil conflict. The Russian ruble devaluation of 1998 had a deleterious effect on Moldova's economy, but economic growth has been steady since 2000.

Moldova has made progress in economic reform since independence. The government has liberalized most prices and has phased out subsidies on most basic consumer goods. A program begun in March 1993 has privatized 80% of all housing units and nearly 2,000 small, medium, and large enterprises. Other successes include the privatization of nearly all of Moldova's agricultural land from state to private ownership, as a result of an American assistance program, "Pamint" ("land"), completed in 2000. A stock market opened in June 1995.

Inflation was brought down from over 105% in 1994 to 11% in 1997. Though inflation spiked again after Russia's 1998 currency devaluation, Moldova made great strides in bringing it under control: 18.4% in 2000, 6.3% in 2001, and 4.4% in 2002. In 2003 inflation escalated again—due mainly to a drought-driven rise in agricultural prices—reaching 15.7%, although it was reigned in to 12.5% in 2004. The local currency appreciated considerably in 2003 and the first months of 2004. By May, the leu had reached its highest level since the end of 1999. After the National Bank of Moldova increased considerably its purchases on the foreign exchange market, the leu stabilized in November-December 2004 at 12.00-12.50 to the US dollar.

Moldova continues to make progress toward developing a viable free-market economy. The country recorded its fifth consecutive year of positive GDP growth in 2004, with year-end real GDP growth of 8%. This growth is impressive considering that, prior to 2000, Moldova had recorded only one year of positive GDP growth since independence. Budget execution in 2004 was also impressive, as actual consolidated budget revenues exceeded projections by 1.4% for most of the year.

Privatization results in 2004 were not significant: several smaller companies and one winery were privatized in 2004, but the government postponed indefinitely the privatization of several larger state enterprises, including two electricity distribution companies. Sporadic and ineffective enforcement of the law, economic and political uncertainty, and government harassment and interference continue to discourage inflows of foreign direct investment.

Imports continued to increase more rapidly than exports during the first nine months of 2004; Moldova's terms of trade worsened, as higher-priced energy imports outpaced the value of Moldova's main exports—agricultural and agro-processing goods.

During 2002, Moldova rescheduled an outstanding Eurobond, in the amount of $39.6 million, to avoid a potential default. In May 2004, Moldova redeemed promissory notes with a total value of $114.5 million to Russian Gazprom for just $50 million. Moldova informed its bilateral creditors in mid-2003 that it would no longer service its debts. The 2004 budget did provide funds for external debt service (interest) at some 6% of the government budget, the 2005 budget projects external debt service at some 4%. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank resumed lending to Moldova in July 2002, and then suspended lending again in July 2003. Although Moldova passed a Poverty Reduction Strategy in 2004, it has yet to reach an agreement with international financial institutions.


DEFENSE AND MILITARY ISSUES

Moldova has accepted all relevant arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union. On October 30, 1992, Moldova ratified the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment and provides for the destruction of weapons in excess of those limits. It acceded to the provisions of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in October 1994 and to the Biological Weapons Convention in December 2004. It does not have nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Moldova joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Partnership for Peace on March 16, 1994. Due to Moldova's constitutional neutrality, it is not a participant in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS—a group of 12 former Soviet republics) Collective Security Agreement.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Moldova's Parliament approved the country's membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States and a CIS charter on economic union in April 1994.

In 1995, the country became the first former Soviet republic admitted to the Council of Europe. In addition to its membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace, Moldova also belongs to the United Nations, the OSCE, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Moldova is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In 1998, Moldova contributed to the founding of GUAM, a regional cooperative agreement made up of Georgia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan, in addition to Moldova. In 1999, Uzbekistan also joined the group, renamed GUUAM. Although the agreement initially included a declaration of mutual defense, Moldova has since declared its disinterest in participating in any GUUAM-based mutual defense initiative. Moldova has been involved in information exchange, trade and transportation, border control, and energy projects issues within this regional agreement.

In the atmosphere of heightened international sensitivity to terrorism following the events of September 11, 2001, Moldova has been a supporter of American efforts to increase international cooperation in combating terrorism. Moldova has sent demining units and peacekeepers to participate in post-conflict humanitarian assistance in Iraq.


U.S.-MOLDOVAN RELATIONS

The dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991 brought an end to the Cold War and created the opportunity to build bilateral relations with the 15 new states that had made up the former U.S.S.R., as they began political and economic transformation. The United States recognized the independence of Moldova on December 25, 1991 and opened an Embassy in its capital, Chisinau, in March 1992. The current U.S. Ambassador to Moldova, Heather M. Hodges, arrived at post in October 2003.

A trade agreement providing reciprocal most-favored-nation tariff treatment became effective in July 1992. An Overseas Private Investment Corporation agreement, which encourages U.S. private investment by providing direct loans and loan guarantees, was signed in June 1992. A bilateral investment treaty was signed in April 1993. Generalized system of preferences status was granted in August 1995, and some Eximbank coverage became available in November 1995.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

CHISINAU (E) Address: 103 Str. A. Mateevici; Phone: 373-22-40-8300; Fax: 373-22-23-3044; INMARSAT Tel: 6-831-32845; Workweek: M–F 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; Website: www.usembassy.md

AMB:Heather M. Hodges
AMB OMS:Josephine O'Neill
DCM:John H. Winant
DCM OMS:Janice Foreman
POL/ECO:H. Martin McDowell
COM:H. Martin McDowell
CON:Andrew Paul
MGT:Charles Eaton
AFSA:Vacant
AID:John Starnes
CLO:Ewa Paul
CUS:Tony Karb
DAO:Richard Reyno
ECO:H. Martin McDowell
EEO:H. Martin McDowell
FMO:Charles Eaton
GSO:Greg Gerou
ICASS Chair:John Starnes
IMO:Randal Meyers
ISO:Samuel Berardi
ISSO:Samuel Berardi
PAO:Aleisha Woodward
RSO:Greg A. Sherman
State ICASS:Aleisha Woodward
Last Updated: 9/12/2004

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

September 17, 2004

Country Description: Moldova is a republic with a freely elected government. It has been an independent nation since 1991. Its capital, Chisinau, offers adequate hotels and restaurants, but tourist facilities in other parts of the country are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available.

Entry/Exit Requirements: American citizens must obtain a visa from a Moldovan diplomatic mission abroad before traveling to Moldova. However, in exceptional circumstances when this is not possible, American citizens holding passports still valid for 6 months can obtain visas at the Chisinau International Airport or at specific border crossings, but only for stays of up to 90 days. American citizens are no longer required to have an invitation from a Moldovan citizen or entity. For more information on entry requirements, please contact the Moldovan Embassy, 2101 S. Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone: (202) 667-1130, (202) 667-1131, or (202) 667-1137, fax: (202) 667-1204, e-mail: [email protected] Travelers may also wish to consult the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website for general information on Moldovan visas and for application forms: http://www.mfa.md/En/ConsularInf/Visas-Info.htm.

Important Reminder: All foreign citizens staying in Moldova for three days or longer are required to register with local authorities at the Office of Visas and Registration within the first three working days of their stay in Moldova. The place of registration (usually, a district police station) depends on where a visitor is staying in Moldova. Most hotels will register guests automatically. The Embassy encourages U.S. citizens to ask about registration when checking into a hotel. U.S. citizens not staying in a hotel are responsible for registering with authorities. To find out exactly where to register, a U.S. citizen may call the central Office for Visas and Registration at (373) (22) 21-30-78, and should be prepared to give the address of the residence in Moldova. Under Moldovan law, those who fail to register with authorities may be required to appear in court and pay a fine, possibly delaying their departure from Moldova. For more information on registering with Moldovan authorities, U.S. citizens are encouraged to call the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau at (373) (22) 40-83-00.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Dual Nationality: In addition to being subject to all Moldovan laws affecting U.S. citizens, individuals who also possess the nationality of Moldova may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of that country. For additional information, see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://0000travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality flyer.

US Citizens who have at one time held Moldovan citizenship should be aware that legal and procedural problems could arise while in Moldova, if they have not formally renounced their Moldovan citizenship. Problems can include difficulties with registration for stays over three days, and delays in departing Moldova, as well as additional fees or fines. Interested travelers should contact the Moldovan Embassy in Washington, D.C. for information, before traveling to Moldova.

Safety and Security: A separatist regime controls a narrow strip of land in the Transnistria region of eastern Moldova. The United States and other countries do not recognize this regime. Since no formal diplomatic relations exist between the United States and local authorities there, the provision of consular assistance to American citizens cannot be ensured. Travelers should exercise caution in visiting or transiting the area. Travelers should be aware that there are numerous road checkpoints in the Transnistria region.

Crime Information: Moldova's recent economic difficulties, as well as increased organized criminal activity combined with more frequent travel by foreigners to Moldova, contribute to the risk visitors face with street crime, some potentially violent. While this risk is no greater than in most cities in the United States, many Americans have reported theft of money and small valuables from hotel rooms and local apartments. Cases of breaking and entering into homes and offices are not uncommon. Travelers are wise to exercise the same precautions with regard to personal safety and protection of valuables in Chisinau that they would in any major U.S. city.

Train and bus services are below Western European standards and some U.S. citizens have been victims of crimes involving thefts while traveling on international trains to and from Moldova.

Internet Fraud Warning: The Embassy is also aware of various confidence schemes that have taken advantage of American Citizens, frequently via the Internet. In some cases these involve the purchase or sale of items on the Internet in which the payment or shipment of goods was not completed by a Moldovan counterpart. Losses have included merchandise valued above $1,000. In other cases, American Citizens, particularly males, have meet potential Moldovan fiancé(e)s on the Internet who have convinced them to send hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but with no intention of a serious relationship. Once the American Citizen starts to question the reason for sending the money, the Moldovan fiancé(e) suddenly ends their contact. Recently, American citizens who come to Moldova to visit someone they have first met over the Internet have reported becoming subject to crimes such as extortion and involuntary detention.

American Citizens should be aware that any such activity committed by individuals in Moldova would be subject to the Moldovan legal system and could prove difficult to prosecute. In the vast majority of cases, there is nothing that the U.S. Embassy in Moldova can do to assist American Citizens who are defrauded by Moldovans via the Internet.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while over-seas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds can be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities: Medical care in Moldova is limited and there are often severe shortages of basic medical supplies. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities. The U.S. Embassy maintains lists of medical facilities and English-speaking doctors.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Other Health Information: Rabies vaccinations may be useful as casual exposure to stray dogs is common throughout Chisinau. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the Hepatitis A or IG, and B series for certain travelers. The CDC also recommends typhoid vaccinations for travelers to Moldova. Consult your physician about immunizations.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Moldova is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Moldova's highway infrastructure consists mainly of two-lane roads, unevenly maintained and unlit. Caution should be taken to prevent collisions with agricultural vehicles. Travel before dawn and after dusk should be avoided if at all possible. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution to avoid accidents, which are commonplace. Many accidents involve drunk drivers.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/travel/abroad_roadsafety.html. For specific information concerning Moldovan driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Moldovan Department of Tourism Development via the Internet at http://www.turism.md/.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Moldova by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Moldova's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Customs Regulations: Moldovan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Moldova of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, and foreign currency. Travelers are advised to register any foreign currency brought into Moldova with customs authorities upon entering the country. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Moldova in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.

Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. A current list of those countries with serious problems in this regard can be found here.

Moldovan customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to [email protected], or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Moldova's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Moldova are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.

Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.

Special Circumstances: Outside of Chisinau, travelers may have difficulty finding public telephones and receiving and making international and local calls. Losses have been reported from international letter and package mail, both of which are subject to a customs inspection before delivery. "Express" mail services such as DHL and Federal Express are available in Chisinau, although in most instances prices are expensive, and shipments arrive from (or reach) the U.S. in no less than five (5) business days.

Moldova is generally a cash-only economy. Traveler's checks and credit cards are accepted only at a few select locations in Chisinau, and some travelers have reported incidents of unauthorized expenditures made from their credit cards during or following the use of their cards in Moldova.

Individuals considering doing business in Transnistria should be aware that because the Government of Moldova does not recognize the separatist regime which presently controls this area, Transnistrian firms are not legally registered with Moldovan authorities and operate in contravention of Moldovan law. This can often complicate or prevent the import or export of goods into or from Transnistria. The Government of Moldova has indicated it does not recognize the validity of contracts made for the privatization of firms in Transnistria concluded without the approval of the appropriate Moldovan authorities.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html.

Registration/Embassy and Consulate Location: Americans living in or visiting Moldova are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov to obtain updated information on travel and security within Moldova. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of an emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in Chisinau, Moldova, Strada Alexei Mateevici 103; telephone: (373)(22) 23-37-72, after-hours telephone: (373)(22) 23-73-45; Consular Section Fax: (373)(22) 22-63-61. The Embassy's website is http://www.usembassy.md.

International Adoption

January 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family

Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

All Immigrant Visa processing for Moldovan citizens, including adopted orphans, is done at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania. The U.S. Embassy in Chisinau, Moldova conducts the I-604 orphan investigation and a mandatory review of documents to verify an adopted orphan can qualify for a U.S. immigrant visa. Please see below under "U.S. Immigration Requirements" for further details.

Adoptability of Moldovan Orphans: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans (IR-3 and IR-4 visas combined).

FY 2003: 12
FY-2002: 7
FY-2001: 46
FY-2000: 79
FY-1999: 63

International adoptions are permitted in exceptional cases, when no relatives or other Moldovan families are able to adopt orphans or become their guardians. Children who have health or developmental problems that Moldovan families cannot afford to treat are also considered exceptional cases.

Information about children eligible for adoption is published in the Monitorul Official, the Moldovan government's official register. After publication, an adoptable child is available for domestic adoption by Moldovans for six months. After six months, an adoptable child is available for international adoption.

Prospective adoptive parents may indicate the sex and age range they prefer.

Moldovan Adoption Authority:
Ms. Raisa Lozinschi,
the Executive Secretary
Secretariatul Comitetului pentru Infiere a Moldovei (The Moldovan Adoption Committee) #1,
Piata Marii Adunari Nationale room # 424
Chisinau, Moldova
Tel: (373 22) 232-255

Age and Civil Status Requirements: Minimum age requirement for adopting parents is 25, and maximum is 50, unless one parent of a married couple is under the age of 50. Married couples and single people may adopt; unmarried couples may not adopt from Moldova.

Residential Requirements: There are no residency requirements for foreign adoptive parents.

Time Frame: An adoption can take 6-9 months to complete, from the time a child is matched with prospective adoptive parents to the completion of the adoption.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Prospective adoptive parents from Moldova are required to use an accredited adoption agency when adopting in Moldova. There are seven U.S. based adoption agencies accredited by the Moldovan Adoption Committee.

Adoption Procedures: The process begins when a registered international adoption agency, through its Moldovan representative, forwards a file about prospective international adoptive parents to the government's Adoption Committee.

The Committee forwards the file to the Education Directorate in the judets (county) where a prospective adoptable child resides. The local Inspector for the Protection of Children's Rights in the judets, together with the physician and director of the orphanage, examines the file and matches a family with an eligible child. The prospective international adoptive parents are then provided with complete, official information about the child, including health and family background. The prospective parents have the option to refuse a prospective adoptive child. If the prospective parents agree to accept the child, they send a letter to the Committee through their agency's representative, acknowledging that they are aware of any specific health or other problems, and nevertheless accept the child. The orphanage receives a copy of the letter.

The judets' Directorate of Education approves the prospective adoption providing full information on the adoptive parents and the adopted child. The Directorate of Education writes the Notice of Approval of Adoption, and then forwards the file to the Adoption Committee. The Committee then decides whether to approve the adoption. Although prospective adoptive parents do not need to travel to Moldova to meet their adoptive child at the time of the acceptance of the match, they must to appear in court in Moldova to finalize the adoption.

Documentary Requirements: The following documents are required for an international adoption from Moldova.

  • An adoption application which contains: name; year, month and day of birth; residence of the adoptive parent(s); name; year, month and day of birth; residence of the child to be adopted, file data about parents and siblings of the child; reasons and confirmation of reasons for adoption; written request to change name, place of birth, date of birth (in the case of adoption of a child who is 1 year of age or over), and register adoptive parents on the child's birth certificate as the birth parents.

The following documents shall be attached to the application:

  • A copy of the adoptive parent's birth certificate, if the adoption is solicited by an unmarried person;
  • A copy of the marriage certificate of the adoptive parents if the adoption is solicited by a married couple;
  • The written consent of the spouse or a document confirming the divorce and that former spouses do not live together for at least one year, if the adoption is solicited by one of the spouses. If it is impossible to attach such a document, the application shall include proof to confirm this;
  • Health certificate of the adopters. The following conditions disqualify prospective adoptive parents from adopting in Moldova: HIV/AIDS, psychological and behavioral conditions, drug addiction, chronic alcoholism, chronic somatic diseases (disability of the 1st and 2nd degree), cancerous forms of oncological diseases, viral hepatitis B,C,D. The following conditions may temporarily disqualify a person from adopting: sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and severe virulent diseases;
  • A certificate from the adopter's work place, which shall include the title of position and the wage or a copy of the income statement or of a similar document;
  • A legalized copy of the document confirming the adopter's usage or ownership right over a dwelling;
  • The court presiding over the adoption may ask for additional documents accepted by law, including criminal records, if applicable; and
  • Approval by the adopting parents' government and permission for the adopted child to reside in their new country of residence.

All documents must be properly legalized. Two copies of documents attached to the adoption application shall be submitted.

Authentication Process: All U.S. documents submitted to the Moldovan government, such as birth, death, and marriage certificates, must be authenticated. Contact the nearest Moldovan Embassy or Consulate for specific information about Moldovan authentication of U.S. documents. For additional information about authentication procedures, see the "Judicial Assistance" page of the Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site at http://travel.state.gov.

Moldovan Embassy in the United States: 101 S. Street N.W.; Washington, D.C. 20008; Tel: (202) 667-1130, (202) 667-1131, or (202) 667-1137; Fax: (202) 667-1204; E-mail: [email protected]

U.S. Immigration Requirements: A child adopted by a U.S. citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details.

Planning Your Trip Home: Adoption of a child from Moldova requires an extra step, since you must have an I-604 interview at embassy Chisinau and an immigrant visa interview at embassy Bucharest. Because we understand this, we try very hard to accommodate your travel schedules. Embassy Chisinau is open Monday through Friday from 09.00 to 18.00. Please call us and we will schedule an appointment for your I-604 interview in advance.

Once the I-604 investigation is complete, the adoptive child and parents must travel to Bucharest, Romania, to apply for an immigrant visa for the United States. Please visit the Web site for the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest for more information on immigrant visa application procedures at www.usembassy.ro.

U.S. Embassy in Moldova:
strada A. Mateevici 103
Chisinau, Moldova MD-2009
Tel.: (373 22) 23-37-72 or 40-83-00.;
Fax: (373 22) 22-63-61
Email: [email protected]

U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania
Filipescu 26
Bucharest, Romania
Tel: +40 21 210 4042;
Fax: +40 21 211 3360
Email: [email protected]
Internet: www.usembassy.ro

Questions: Specific questions regarding adoption may be addressed to the Consular Section of a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Parents may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-404-4747 with specific questions.

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Moldova

Moldova

The second smallest of the former members of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Moldova is a landlocked country measuring 33,843 square kilometers (13,063 square miles). In 2004 the country had an estimated population of almost 4.5 million people. Moldova's neighbors include Ukraine to the north, northeast, and east and Romania to the west. The country was part of Romania prior to the USSR, which it joined after World War II (1939–1945), and ethnic Moldovans are generally recognized as descended from the same peoples as ethnic Romanians. Almost 65 percent of the country's population is ethnic Moldovan, and ethnic Russians and Ukrainians each comprise about 13 percent of the population. Many citizens still closely identify with Romanian language and culture. The people of Moldova are overwhelmingly Eastern Orthodox, which is practiced by 98 percent of the population.

Along with other former Soviet Republics, Moldova declared independence from the USSR in 1991. Immediately people in the geographic region known as Transnistria declared an independent republic as well, due to political disagreements based on ethnic tension. The ethnic Russian and Ukrainian citizens of the region faced concerns over a political effort advocating re-unification with Romania. The Transnistria region is separated from the rest of Moldova not only by this ethnic dispute but also by natural geography, which has resulted in a literal and political divide from the rest of the country. Transnistria was the cause of a brief war over this secessionist movement from Moldova in the early 1990s. The area remains plagued with political conflict.

In 1992 Moldova joined the United Nations. In 1994 a new constitution was formally adopted, establishing the country as a republic. Moldova is a poor country struggling to maintain a free market economy. In 2001, when Vladimir Voronin (b. 1941) was elected, Moldova became the first former Soviet nation to elect a member of the Communist Party to the position of president post-independence.

All citizens eighteen years old and older can vote. Political power in the country is shared among the president, cabinet, parliament, and judiciary. The president is elected by parliament, rather than by popular vote, for four-year terms. To win, a candidate must receive a clear majority of votes, and thus political support, from parliament, a unicameral body of 101 members who serve four-year terms. In 2004, President Voronin as well as a majority of parliament were members of the Communist Party.

The prime minister is chosen by the president and appointed on parliamentary approval. The prime minister serves as head of government and appoints a cabinet, the Council of Ministers, which must also be approved by the parliament. The government, led by the Council of Ministers, carries out domestic and foreign policy for the country. Under this system, the president is the dominant political figure.

The judicial system is based on a civil law system. A constitutional court reviews government policies to determine and maintain constitutional consistency. A system of general courts leads to the Supreme Court, the highest court for nonconstitutional actions. According to the U.S. Department of State, the political independence of the judicial system is questionable.

Amnesty International has reported cases of human rights abuses in Moldova, including torture, withholding legal representation from political detainees, and the trafficking of women. Politically motivated arrests, detentions, and disappearances have also been reported. These and other problems led Freedom House to rate Moldova as a 3 and 4 on its 7-point scales for political rights and civil liberties, respectively, and summarized Moldova as a "partly free" nation.

See also: Romania; Ukraine.

bibliography

Fedor, Helen, ed. Belarus and Moldova Country Studies. Lanham, MD: Bernan, 1996.

Freedom House. "Moldova." Freedom in the World 2004. New York: Freedom House, 2004. <http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/freeworld/2004/countryratings/moldova.htm>.

Kort, Michael G. The Handbook of the Former Soviet Union. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1996.

"Moldova." CIA World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2005. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/md.html>.

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. "Moldova." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2003. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2004. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27854.htm>.

Andrea Rogers

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